Father George William Rutler Homilies
2019-05-19 - Fifth Sunday of Easter

2019-05-19 - Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 19, 2019

19 May 2019

Fifth Sunday of Easter

John 13:31-33A, 34-35 + Homily

15 Minutes 30 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051919.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  In recent weeks, long lines streamed into the Morgan Library to see a display of J.R.R. Tolkien’s memorabilia and his art, mostly drawings and watercolors. Other authors like William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor sketched as an avocation, but these pictures were very much an integral part of Tolkien’s symbolic world in The Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit and The Silmarillion.

   Here on display was an example of the words inscribed as John Henry Newman’s epitaph: “Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem” – “Into the truth through shadows and images.” When Tolkien’s widowed mother converted to Catholicism in 1900, she was disinherited by her Baptist family. She died at the age of 34, before the invention of insulin, when Tolkien was twelve and his brother ten. He would write that his mother “killed herself with labour and trouble to ensure us keeping the faith.” The devout Oratorian priest to whom Mabel entrusted her boys, Father Francis Xavier Morgan, had been a schoolboy under the tutelage of Newman, soon to be canonized.

   To his dying day, Tolkien was a daily communicant and venerated the memory of Father Morgan (no relation to J.P.), whom he had served as an altar boy, leading many others to the Faith, and he married only after persuading his future wife to convert. His grandson Simon has recalled that during the liturgical changes following Vatican II, his grandfather “didn't agree with this and made all the responses very loudly in Latin while the rest of the congregation answered in English. I found the whole experience quite excruciating, but my grandfather was oblivious. He simply had to do what he believed to be right.”

   A new “biopic” about Tolkien’s early years features Father Morgan at the start, near the middle, and at the end, but practically omits any other mention of the Catholicism that was at the heart of the author’s life as an Oxford don and writer. The film originally had a scene showing Tolkien receiving Communion in the trenches during the First World War, but it was cut because “people felt it was boring.” 

   Last year’s film of the children’s book A Wrinkle in Time, produced with Disney Corporation money (like Tolkien, which was made through the Disney-owned Fox Searchlight), eliminated the Christian imagery of its author, Madeleine L’Engle. Perhaps if it had been faithful to the text, it would not have lost nearly one hundred million dollars.

   Madeleine was a good friend, and I knew to a lesser degree Tolkien’s eldest son John, who was a priest. Both would have found the film producers’ airbrushing of religion utterly incomprehensible. Tolkien wrote to the daughter of his publisher: “. . . the chief purpose of life, for any one of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks."

2019-05-12 - Fourth Sunday of Easter

2019-05-12 - Fourth Sunday of Easter

May 12, 2019

12 May 2019

Fourth Sunday of Easter

John 10:27-30 + Homily

16 Minutes 17 Seconds

Link to the Readings

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051219.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  The English priest John Colet was influenced by his friends Erasmus and Saint Thomas More. As Dean of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London, he founded Saint Paul’s School for boys in 1509 on humanist principles. Graduates have included John Milton, Samuel Pepys, John Churchill, G.K. Chesterton, three recipients of the Victoria Cross and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who planned the D-Day invasion in one of its classrooms. Colet provided that the school have 153 young scholars, in recollection of the 153 fish that the disciples hauled ashore the third time the Risen Lord appeared to them.

   There is endless speculation about what 153 means, but saints including Jerome and Louis de Montfort have been transfixed in observing that the Tetragrammaton, the unutterable name of God, appears 153 times in the first book of the Bible.

   It would be a mistake to suppose that the apostles went back to fishing in disobedience to the Master’s command years before that they drop their nets and follow him. Christ is the Alpha and Omega, meaning that He is able to know everything from start to finish at the same time. So He was able to “set up” His men, ordering them to go to the Sea of Tiberius, knowing their thoughts in order to instruct them.

   In His humanity He did a human thing in cooking breakfast. In His divinity He predicted what the apostles would become. By an intricate symmetry, He prepared a charcoal fire on the shore and asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter got the message, and he wept because he had denied knowing Christ three times sitting by another charcoal fire. Whatever else may been encoded in the number 153, the point is that this event happened, a detail never to be forgotten.

   Contemplation of the unity of the True God and True Man encounters layers of reality beyond the limitations of human intelligence. Nonetheless, we can perceive the existence of those dimensions. A “Participatory Anthropic Principle” among some quantum physicists suggests that the universe is structured with a set of physical constants without which there would be no intelligent life on Earth, and that it is only by participating in that structure by observation that humans can sense this. So there may be in those 153 fish the Voice saying: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12).

   But one thing we know, and it is what prevents miniaturizing Christ as the best of men, but nothing but a man: “For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17).

 

2019-05-05 - Third Sunday of Easter

2019-05-05 - Third Sunday of Easter

May 5, 2019

5 May 2019

Third Sunday of Easter

John 21:1-19 + Homily

19 Minutes 12 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050519.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  Every writer is familiar with the word “obelism,” which refers to an editor’s abbreviations in the margins indicating corrections to be made. An author in a passive-aggressive mood may counter by writing the Latin “stet,” which means to let the text remain as is. When the Temple authorities were scandalized that Pontius Pilate had ordered a placard for the Cross to read “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” they asked him to edit it to read that Jesus only claimed to be King of the Jews. As his own stet, the governor said “Quod scripsi, scripsi—What I have written, I have written.”

   Who knows if he was being cruelly sarcastic, or perhaps was haunted, as was his wife? Either way, he showed some courage, albeit with the might of Rome behind him and an army around him, because his job was to keep order among a volatile demographic.

   On page proofs of one of my books, an editor marked in red ink, “Do you really mean this?” What surprised me was that he thought it was possible that I had written something I did not really mean—not as a grammatical error but as ill-advised audacity. Prudence is a virtue to be used in expressing thoughts, but it is overused as timidity when it thwarts courage.

   Courage, or fortitude, is one of the four cardinal virtues. Citing the Aristotelian philosophers, Cicero wrote: "Each man should so conduct himself that fortitude appear in labors and dangers: temperance in foregoing pleasures: prudence in the choice between good and evil: justice in giving every man his due.” Cicero quite literally was a man of his word, and was dismembered for speaking out against Mark Antony. When his head and hands were displayed in the Roman Forum, Anthony’s wife Fulvia tried to take revenge on Cicero’s eloquent outspokenness by piercing his tongue with a hairpin. But today, that unlovely couple are historical curiosities, while Cicero’s speeches still animate civilized consciences.

   After the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit filled the Apostles with heroic courage. This was a marked change from when they fled from the sight of the Cross, proving the adage ascribed to the Duke of Wellington: “All soldiers run away. The good ones come back.” Hauled before the High Priest and Sanhedrin, and at risk to their own lives, Peter and the apostles said: “‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had Him executed by hanging on a tree. By His own right hand God has now raised Him up to be leader and saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through Him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” STET.

2019-04-28 - Second Sunday of Easter

2019-04-28 - Second Sunday of Easter

April 28, 2019

28 April 2019

Second Sunday of Easter

John 20:19-31 + Homily

15 Minutes 22 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042819.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

   In the radiance of the Resurrection, the Church relates to the emotions of the first witnesses: grief, fear, bewilderment, and then exultation. In each generation, believers experience all of these in various ways. On Good Friday our local custom is to meditate on the Seven Last Words, using meditations written by Blessed John Henry Newman. Because the reflections he wrote in the nineteenth century are so apposite to the history of the Church’s trials and triumphs, listeners often think they were written just yesterday. The same is true of the Paschal Sequence: “Death and Life have contended / In that combat stupendous.”

   On Good Friday a faithful young priest I knew when he was a boy, died after a long illness, and at the same time, a girl was born to one of our families. Early on Easter morning one of our Sri Lankan worshipers told me of the massacre in Colombo. It is estimated that around our world a Christian is martyred every five minutes “in odium fidei” by those who hate Christ. During the cathedral fire in Paris, the rescue of the Blessed Sacrament (which the frail ecclesiology of The New York Times called “a statue of Jesus”) was a triumph of life over death. 

   Over many years I have had recourse to an epitaph in an English church inscribed during the dark Puritan days of Cromwell’s Protectorate: “In the year 1653 when all thinges Sacred were throughout ye nation Either demolisht or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley, Baronet, Founded this church; Whose singular praise it is to have done the best things in ye worst times, and hoped them in the most callamitous.”

   On Easter Day in that spirit, and at a time of no little tribulation in the Church and culture in general, we dedicated a new baldacchino to enhance our central altar. This was part of an ongoing project to furnish our church with art and craftsmanship representative of the unsurpassed aesthetic patrimony of Catholicism. Our funds are limited, so this was a work of devotion by the carpenters who attended the dedication, and our own parishioners, including the architect and sculptor. If friends of the parish continue to be generous, we can put our local talent to further use. 

   The High Priests and Pharisees told the Roman governor Pontius Pilate that Jesus had said that He would rise from the dead. They certainly did not believe that, but it made them edgy enough that they asked permission to seal the Tomb. The Living Word, however, always has the last word. Recall the admonition of one of Hannibal’s soldiers after his victory at the battle of Cannae, when he hesitated to march on to Rome: “Vincere scis, victoria uti nescis.” —"You know how to win but you do not know what to do with the victory.” May the Victorious Christ never have to say that about us.

 

2019-04-21 - Easter Sunday

2019-04-21 - Easter Sunday

April 21, 2019

21 April 2019

Easter Sunday: The Resurrection of the Lord

John 20:1-9 + Homily

19 Minutes 42 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042119.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

THE EASTER SERMON OF JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

Bishop of Constantinople (c. A.D. 400)

   Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

   Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; if any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

   For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

   Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

   You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

   Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of Our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.

   He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, “You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

   Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

   O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?

   Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

   To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

 

2019-04-19 - Good Friday - Seventh Word from the Cross

2019-04-19 - Good Friday - Seventh Word from the Cross

April 19, 2019

19 April 2019

Good Friday

Seventh Word from the Cross

"Father, into your hands I commend My Spirit."

11 Minutes 32 Seconds

2019-04-19 - Good Friday - Sixth Word from the Cross

2019-04-19 - Good Friday - Sixth Word from the Cross

April 19, 2019

19 April 2019

Good Friday

Sixth Word from the Cross

"It is finished."

16 Minutes 32 Seconds

2019-04-19 - Good Friday - Fifth Word from the Cross

2019-04-19 - Good Friday - Fifth Word from the Cross

April 19, 2019

19 April 2019

Good Friday

Fifth Word from the Cross

"I thirst."

20 Minutes 16 Seconds

2019-04-19 - Good Friday - Fourth Word from the Cross

2019-04-19 - Good Friday - Fourth Word from the Cross

April 19, 2019

19 April 2019

Good Friday

Fourth Word from the Cross

"My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

17 Minutes 9 Seconds

2019-04-19 - Good Friday - Third Word from the Cross

2019-04-19 - Good Friday - Third Word from the Cross

April 19, 2019

19 April 2019

Good Friday

Third Word from the Cross

"Woman, behold thy son; son, behold thy Mother."

16 Minutes 47 Seconds