Father George William Rutler Homilies
2019-03-31 - Fourth Sunday of Lent

2019-03-31 - Fourth Sunday of Lent

March 31, 2019

31 March 2019

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 + Homily

19 Minutes 33 Seconds

Link to the Readings:


(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

   Thirty-five years ago I admired the neo-Gothic buildings of a Catholic college in Westchester County. But I was surprised to find that the confessional in the beautiful chapel was being used as a broom closet. There had been some misunderstanding about aggiornamento, or bringing the practice of the Faith up to date. That was the College of New Rochelle, begun in 1904 by the Ursuline sisters whose Religious institute was founded by Saint Angela Merici and who have graced the Church since 1535 with hospitals and schools and missionary work. They have not been unique in their numerical decline. In the United States since 1965, when the Second Vatican Council ended with sentiments of a “New Springtime” of the Church, Religious sisters have declined from 181,421 to 47,160, and most of those left are aged. This year the College of New Rochelle will close.

   While various factors for all this may be cited, many Religious orders, trained in obedience, accepted bad advice from misguided and misguiding theologians and leaders. Bishops often have been at fault, timorous about correcting error, cheerily giving out diplomas while the spiritual foundations of the schools sank. It took a courage usually lacking to point out that serious mistakes were being made, and many Religious dug into their errors, abandoning community life and even Religious habits, and replacing doctrine with secular dogmas about “Peace and Justice” and “climate change”—all witness to the dictum, attributed to various sources, that ”Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”

   Such need not be the case, given a dose of humility and sanity. Those who stubbornly will not admit mistakes are easily annoyed when shown new Religious orders, faithful to classical doctrine and religious practice, that are rapidly growing. Something similar is happening in education. Take just two examples: Thomas Aquinas College has emphasized quality over size since its founding in 1971 and has become one of the best regarded colleges in California. This year, it is opening a beautiful additional campus on an historic site in Massachusetts. Its California chapel, built in the Spanish Mission style, is a magnificent witness to Catholic heritage, as is the new chapel planned for Christendom College in Virginia, which was founded just a few years after Thomas Aquinas College. In the few years of their existence, although primarily lay institutions, Thomas Aquinas has produced 60 priests, 44 consecrated Religious women and men, and 26 seminarians; Christendom boasts so far 80 priests, 55 Religious, and 22 seminarians. Those colleges have not turned their confessionals into broom closets.

   Any individual or institution that seeks happiness on its own terms will not find it. Chesterton asks, “Do you have joy without a cause…?” On Laetare Sunday, the Church rejoices in the true cause of joy, which is God Himself. The failings evident in practical experience testify to what happens when vanity tries to usurp Him.

2019-03-24 - Third Sunday of Lent

2019-03-24 - Third Sunday of Lent

March 24, 2019

24 March 2019

Third Sunday of Lent

Luke 13:1-9 + Homily

14 Minutes 4 Seconds

Link to the Readings:


(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

   There is a law that the time required to complete a task matches the time available. The feast of the Annunciation fits conveniently in the Lenten cycle this year, as the season comes unusually late. Our Lady conceived when she said “Yes” to the Creator. Many today are saying “No.” In some parts of our country there is growth in the number of seminarians, but in most places the harvest is sparse, and that is directly related to the dearth of children. The birth rate is the lowest in history: 60.2 births for every 1,000 women. We may be contracting a contagion of barrenness from Europe, which is dying because of a birth rate of 10 per 1,000 women and is desperately trying to survive by radically transforming its culture through massive immigration. It is projected that within ten years, the European Union will experience a 14% decrease in its workforce and a 7% decrease in its consumer populations. 

   A birth dearth reflects moral sterility. There is one condition shared by the heads of state or government in France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Sweden, Holland, Scotland, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Luxembourg: none of them have any children. Why should they care about future generations? There actually are voices calling for a complete elimination of births, on the claim that anthropogenic “climate change” will destroy the world in twenty years anyway. Many of them, whose mothers were of a different school of thought, may not remember that fifty years ago, a book titled The Population Bomb predicted that within ten years, hundreds of millions would have died of starvation and that most of its readers would have starved to death by now. Practicing what he preached, the author had a vasectomy and now—at the age of 85—still has an adequate food supply. Confident that theory takes precedent over fact, he maintains that his core thesis was correct.

   State legislation and cultural pressures are increasingly hostile to families, which in various ways are looked on as threats to government. Governmental and societal forces promote contraception, abortion, easy divorce, and welfare structures that encourage fatherless households. If the Church is true to herself in her teaching and example, she will be the solace of civilization in this new demographic dark age.

   Giving thanks in these Lenten days for Our Lady’s “Yes,” we look to the words of Saint John Paul II: “I wish to invoke the protection of the Holy Family of Nazareth. ... It is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families. … St. Joseph was a ‘just man’… May he always guard, protect and enlighten families. May the Virgin Mary, who is the Mother of the Church, also be the Mother of ‘the Church of the home.’ . . . May Christ the Lord, the Universal King, the King of Families, be present in every Christian home as He was at Cana, bestowing light, joy, serenity, and strength” (Familiaris Consortio #86).


2019-03-19 - Solemnity of Saint Joseph

2019-03-19 - Solemnity of Saint Joseph

March 23, 2019

19 March 2019

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24A + Homily

13 Minutes 45 Seconds

Link to the Readings:


(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

2019-03-17 - Second Sunday of Lent

2019-03-17 - Second Sunday of Lent

March 17, 2019

17 March 2019

Second Sunday of Lent

Luke 9:8B-36 + Homily

21 Minutes 32 Seconds

UPDATE: Our technical difficulties have been resolved. The homily for the Second Sunday of Lent - 17 March 2019 - has been uploaded.

Link to Readings:


(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

   The holy patron of our archdiocese was a contemporary of Saint Augustine. While Augustine of north Africa became one of the greatest Doctors of the church, Patrick of Roman Britain humbly called himself uneducated, even though he was schooled in France by Saint Germaine of Auxerre and possibly Saint Martin of Tours, and was given books by Pope Saint Celestine I. 

   Patrick, after six youthful years as a slave captured by Irish pirates, embarked upon the conversion of the Druid tribes. He did not chase the snakes out of Ireland because there were none, nor did he explain the Holy Trinity using a shamrock, for that would have been a Partialist error inconsistent with the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed formulated just a few years before his birth. But he sparked a fire that shed the Gospel light on many parts of the world. The largest number of people who claim Patrick for their patron are Nigerians, converted by heroic Irish missionaries. The number of baptized Catholics in Nigeria has soared from 19 million in 2005 to 53 million today. There are two thousand priests and nearly 4,000 Religious, along with a boom in vocations.

   By contrast, despite many worthy witnesses, the majority of Irish people failed to heed the warnings of Saint John Paul II when he became the first pontiff to set foot on the soil of Eire in 1979. He preached to 1.25 million faithful at a Mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Last year, Pope Francis offered Holy Mass in the same place, and fewer than 130,000 showed up. Four months later, the Druids returned and defiantly danced in the streets when abortion was legalized. The Taoiseach (Prime Minister), was elected while publicly living in perverse contempt of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The chief seminary of Maynooth has the lowest numbers of students since its foundation in 1795. Its rector of fifteen years abandoned the Faith and now conducts an esoteric cult in Arizona. An Irish commentator and playwright recently called Ireland “The Most Anti-Catholic Country on Planet Earth.” This would seem to be hyperbolic, given persecution in Muslim lands, China and North Korea, but it bespeaks the adolescent rebellion of a population moved by an anger unlike the cool detachment of calculating governments.

   This is a warning to Catholics in the United States, because such is what happens when religion is only a political and ethnic sentiment. The Saint Patrick’s Day parade in New York City has become a bibulous charade of Saint Patrick. While contingents advertise their contempt for his Gospel, Nigerians honor Saint Patrick in a different way. A few weeks ago, Nigerian soldiers under attack by the Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram did not masquerade as leprechauns drinking green beer. In a Zambiza forest, they knelt and chanted as their chaplain raised aloft for adoration the same Blessed Sacrament with which Patrick had faced the Druids.

2019-03-10 - First Sunday in Lent

2019-03-10 - First Sunday in Lent

March 10, 2019

10 March 2019

First Sunday in Lent

Luke 4:1-13 + Homily

20 Minutes 3 Seconds

NOTE: Due to technical difficulties today's homily did not record. This is the homily from the First Sunday of Lent 2016 featuring the same text from Luke.

Link to today's Readings:


(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

   Lent is an invigorating time for truth. The Truth Himself spent forty days in the wilderness combating the Prince of Lies. He did it as our “champion.” A champion is more than someone who gets his face on a cereal box for having won contests. Go back to the thirteenth century and you will see that the word meant a combatant who fights on behalf of others.

   Since humility is honesty, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the declaration and manifestation of humility, sacramental confession, preferably frequently in Lent, is at the heart of Lent. The ashes we wore on Wednesday are signs of that intention; otherwise, they are blemishes advertising a failure to live up to it. 

   If everyone told the truth these days, our culture would shatter, because it functions by deceit in countless forms. There are polite “white lies,” such as kind things said about the deceased. Dr. Johnson said, “In lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath.” But to lie before the bar of justice in order to deceive a human judge is perjury, and to lie before God is worse, because He “knows what is in the heart of man.”

   One should not be scandalized when church leaders trim the truth. Since the Church is Satan’s chief enemy, he twists the Church’s weakest parts: fallible humans. This is why saints regularly pray to be saved from becoming the worst sinners, since their powerful virtues can be turned into equally powerful vices.

   The deceits and willfulness of prelates and ecclesiastical bureaucrats are more contemptible because of the trust placed in them. But such faults are also easily understood, because these figures are central in Satan’s crosshairs. There is potential for cynicism because of the machinations of those who betray the faithful.  It is one thing to become cynical about human institutions, which is why there is sound counsel in words mistakenly attributed to Otto von Bismarck: “Laws, like sausages (Gesetze sind wie Würste) cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” It is more problematic when confronted with the intrigues of synods and prelates. Monsignor Ronald Knox thus explained why he hesitated about visiting Rome: “He who travels in the barque of St. Peter had better not look too closely into the engine room.”

   David, himself a king, psalmed: “put not your trust in princes . . .” (Psalm 146:3). In our days, there are churchmen who feign surprise and even shock at the discovery of evil that they really had already known for a long time. They are prelatical imitators of the “Shock!” of Captain Renault in Casablanca when told of gambling in Rick’s club. Yet they are only mortal functionaries of the immortal Shepherd who prayed in His agony that we might be sanctified by the One whose “word is truth” (John 17:17).


2019-03-03 - Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-03-03 - Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

March 3, 2019

3 March 2019

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 6:39-45 + Homily

18 Minutes 22 Seconds

Link to the Readings:


(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  The pilings on the east side of the Brooklyn Bridge are on the spot where the great Father of Our Country, having evacuated eight thousand Continental troops after their defeat in the Battle of Long Island, boarded the last small boat. In the mist, he did not seek safety until all his men had crossed the East River, earlier known as the Sound River. This was what military strategists call a “tactical withdrawal” because it would rescue victory from defeat. Even so, while unlike the desperate retreat of Napoleon from Moscow, riding in his cushioned coach past the frozen remains of thousands of his hapless troops, it was the course of desperation, not unlike the withdrawal of the ten thousand Greek mercenaries of the Persian prince Cyrus the Younger, trekking 1,500 miles until they reached the sea, and the withdrawal from Gallipoli in World War I, and the more modern rescues of Dunkirk in World War II.

   There is another kind of withdrawal, a strategy called “feigned retreat.” William the Conqueror earned his nickname in 1066 by pretending to withdraw, luring the army of King Harold into a trap. Sam Houston used the strategy at the Battle of San Jacinto. Fast forward, and you have Field Marshall Rommel doing the same with the 21st Panzer Division in 1943 at the Kasserine Pass, devastating the American forces in their first foray in World War II. The American troops soon learned the enemy’s strategy, and thankfully so, otherwise we would not be in our recognizable world today. 

   Our Blessed Lord was not a pacifist. When he said to turn the other cheek when attacked, he was using the shrewdest kind of tactical strategy in spiritual combat against the Prince of Pride, who can only be mortally wounded by humility. While he refused a sword when he was captured, because he had come into the world to fight Satan on the Cross, he approved Peter carrying two swords should they be needed.

   Saint Gregory of Nyssa knew that the most effective tactic in spiritual combat is contempt for arrogance, which appears foolish in the eyes of cynics: “People are often considered blind and useless when they make the supreme Good their aim and give themselves up to the contemplation of God, but Paul made a boast of this and proclaimed himself a fool for Christ’s sake. The reason he said, ‘We are fools for Christ’s sake,’ was that his mind was free from all earthly preoccupations. It was as though he said, ‘We are blind to the life here below because our eyes are raised towards the One who is our head.’”

   Christ often withdrew into the wilderness for prayer (Luke 5:16). These retreats were not flights from defeat. They were a calculated strategy, in preparation for the final victory over sin and death.

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