Father George William Rutler Homilies
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.

2019-07-21 - 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-07-21 - 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 21, 2019

21 July 2019

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 10:38-42 + Brief Remarks

6 Minutes 40 Seconds

Link to the Readings

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072119.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  If there is no objective truth, there are no heresies. For the lazy thinker, the mellow refrain suffices: “It’s all good.” The etymology of “heresy” is complicated, but it has come to mean a wrong choice. Yet, if the mere act of choosing justifies itself (as when people declare themselves “Pro-Choice”), then no choice is wrong. But we live in a real world, and so everything cannot be right. Thus, we have a new religion called political correctness, and anyone who is politically incorrect is accused of being “phobic” one way or another. Suddenly what claims to be liberal is decidedly illiberal, and what is called “free speech” is anything but free. 

   This confusion is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of creation itself. The world follows an order; otherwise all would be chaos. As God has revealed himself as its Creator, there are truths about the world that cannot be denied without illogical anarchy. Every heresy is an exaggeration of a truth. For instance, Arianism teaches the humanity of Christ to the neglect of his divinity, and Apollinarianism does the opposite. The long list of heresies with complicated names illustrates how many deep thinkers made mistakes by relying only on their own limited powers of deduction. The two most destructive heresies were Gnosticism and Calvinism, which totally misunderstood creation and the human condition. Thus, we have the romantic fantasizing of Teilhard de Chardin and the sociopathic astringency of John Calvin. 

   In the first chapter of his letter to the Colossians, Saint Paul sets the orthodox template by raising his glorious theology to an effervescent canticle praising the mystery of Christ “who is the image of the unseen God and the first born of all creation.” This hymnody animates the Office of Vespers in the weeks of each month: “. . . for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth . . .”

   By natural intelligence, we would know God as the Designer of the universal order (Romans 1:19-20), but only by God’s revelation can we know the existence of Christ transcending time and space. By Christ’s enfleshment and the shedding of his blood on the Cross, as Saint John Paul II said, quoting Colossians, “the face of the Father, Creator of the universe becomes accessible in Christ, author of created reality: ‘all things were created through him . . . in him all things hold together.'” So Christ cannot be understood as just another wise man in the mold of Confucius or Solomon. As Saint Cyril of Alexandria proclaimed: “We do not say that a simple man, full of honors, I know not how, by his union with Him was sacrificed for us, but it is the very Lord of glory who was crucified.” 

   Without recrimination or censoriousness, but just looking around at the disastrous state of contemporary culture, logic can conclude that, if all things hold together in Christ, without Christ all things fall apart.

2019-07-14 - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-07-14 - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 14, 2019

14 July 2019

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 10:25-37 + Homily

19 Minutes 30 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071419.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

   Centenarians are not as rare as they used to be, and one can profit from their memories. In California I spoke with a woman who had traveled there from Missouri in a covered wagon. I visited another woman in a retirement home who was among the first to hear her English professor at Wellesley College, Katharine Lee Bates, read a poem she had written on her vacation in Colorado: “America the Beautiful.” 

   While the adage obtains, that those who do not know their history are condemned to repeat it, there also is evidence that those who do not know their history can be fooled. “Bastille Day” is the celebration of a myth. Propagandists, and later romanticizers like Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens, made the storming of the prison the first thrust of liberators. The Bastille was far from a fetid torture chamber, and its inmates numbered only seven on July 14, 1789. The Marquis de Sade had been transferred to a lunatic asylum ten days earlier, but while in the Bastille, his rooms were elegantly furnished. The other inmates, including four forgers and two more mental patients, one of whom had a personal chef, were reluctant to be set free. Yet the myth perdures, and the key to the Bastille now hangs in Mount Vernon, the proud gift of the Marquis de Lafayette.

   It takes a skilled propagandist to airbrush the Reign of Terror, but it has been done many times, not least of all by our own Thomas Jefferson. When the Cathedral of Notre Dame burned this year, there was much misinformation about its history. In the Revolution it was ransacked, most of its treasures looted, 28 statues of the Kings of Judah decapitated, the whole building desecrated as a Temple of Reason with a woman of ill repute dancing as a goddess on its high altar, and images of saints replaced by busts of such luminaries as Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. Part of the lead roof was melted to make bullets, and only a gothic revival movement, animated by Victor Hugo’s story of Quasimodo, prevented the ravaged shrine from being totally demolished. It was astonishing, then, to read an essay by the estimable  philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton, at the time of the recent fire in which he said of the revolutionaries: “Nobody at the time could bring himself to lay desecrating hands on the cathedral, apart from a few ruffians who beheaded a saint or two, thinking them to be kings.” As Horace said, even Homer nods; but such insouciance about such a clash of cultures, especially among those who are considered spokesmen for classical verities, is worse than nodding and is more like a coma.

   The Gospel is Good News and not Fake News, because it is real and not malleable putty in the hands of theorists. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have touched, concerning the word of life. . .” (1 John 1:1).

2019-07-07 - 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-07-07 - 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 7, 2019

7 July 2019

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 + Homily

16 Minutes 14 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070719.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  There is dark humor in counting the number of “motivational speakers” who flood public television stations, and go as quickly as they come, just like the profitable “self-help” books of the type that counsel: “God wants you to be happy.” In some churches, there is a tendency to replicate this kind of “snowflake” Gospel that shortchanges people out of the truth.

   Our opioid generation, whether drugged chemically or culturally, has had more suicides than in any decade since the Second World War. It does not understand Socrates’ statement: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates was not “self-motivated” but was moved by the one True God for whom he searched as best he could long before Pentecost. Unlike modern motivational speakers who retire to Malibu or Hawaii to count their royalties, Socrates drank hemlock as a primitive, albeit heroic, sacrifice for objective truth. 

   There are those who would reduce Christ to a glorified motivational speaker. Thomas Jefferson edited the New Testament so that the Resurrection and Pentecost were irrelevant, making the Sermon on the Mount the pinnacle of Christ’s teaching. But this reduced the Messiah to an aphorist. Even had that been the case, there were others more verbose than any “Sage of Galilee.”

   In the eighteenth century, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield wrote his son four hundred letters on how to live as a gentleman, oblivious to the fact that the youth had been born out of wedlock to a housemaid left to live in penury. A wiser author of epigrams was the last of the “Five Good Emperors,” Marcus Aurelius, who was a Stoic in the second century—and if you have to be a pagan, Stoicism is as good a way as any, if not as much fun as Epicureanism. 

   Both of those men warned against procrastination. Lord Chesterfield coined the phrase: “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” This was wisdom, albeit snobbish, and not unlike Benjamin Franklin’s homely advice on how to make a man “healthy, wealthy and wise.” Marcus Aurelius was almost prophetic, and remarkably so since he left words he did not expect to be recorded but which ring true to Christ, when he wrote: “Think of your many years of procrastination; how the gods have repeatedly granted you further periods of grace, of which you have taken no advantage.”

   The Gospel is not a compendium of maxims, nor is Christ an amiable motivational speaker expecting to retire in Galilee and count his royalties. When he tells the scribe to follow immediately and not bury his father, and forbids another would-be follower to tarry to say farewell to his family, he is speaking of procrastination that defers the primacy of God to tomorrow. But Christ can only be a soul’s Saviour if he saves today: “Today if you should hear his voice, harden not your hearts . . .” (Hebrews 3:15).

 

2019-06-30 - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2019-06-30 - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 30, 2019

30 June 2019

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 9:51-62 + Homily

14 Minutes 44 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/063019.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  Among rare neurological disorders, the “pseudobulbar affect” is manifested by uncontrolled laughter or crying. It can be treated effectively in many cases with a combination of the drugs dextromethorphan and quinidine. But there is another malady for which the Food and Drug Administration has no cure, and that is the habit of affecting emotions insincerely in order to manipulate others. There is the habitual backslapper who uses laughter to avoid serious conversation, often out of insecurity. There is also the weeper whose tears flow to elicit sympathy.

   A remarkable quality usually taken for granted, is that humans can laugh and cry unlike other creatures. “Risibility,” the ability to laugh or smile, is a defining trait of humanity. The moral challenge is to identify the right causes of happiness and sadness. 

   All sane, moral behavior has the pursuit of happiness as the goal of life. Sadness is the recognition of what impedes that goal. As long as we are in a broken world, happiness will be elusive to a degree, and at best will be “felicitas,” which means real but impermanent happiness.

   Ancient Greeks, unlike their modern descendants who are largely occupied these days with fixing their economy, spent time studying human dispositions. They were good psychologists. Their gods and goddesses were essentially symbols of human characteristics. There were many deities who represented varying attempts at happiness, although some of their philosophers, like the Cynics and Stoics, did not think there was much of a chance at felicity. There were, for instance: Bacchus – drinking; Hypnos – drugs; Hermes – sports; Dionysius – partying; Aphrodite – sex; Tyche – good luck; Hygieia – health; Thalia – comedy; Momus – silliness and gossip; and Nemesis – revenge on enemies.

   Saint Paul was familiar with that ghostly pantheon and politely confronted their clients in Athens. He did not mock or insult them. But he did declare to them that he knew the one true God who is the source of all true joy and for which those idols were lame substitutes:

     Being then the children of God, we ought not to  think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:29-31)

   Most of the philosophers were unmoved because they liked hearing themselves and none other. But one of them, Dionysius, and a woman named Damaris, and “a number of others” accepted Christ. Their stories are unrecorded, but as Christ never lied, we know that they inherited a happiness higher than felicitas, and that is beatitudo—the endless joy of God’s presence.

2019-06-23 - Corpus Christi

2019-06-23 - Corpus Christi

June 23, 2019

23 June 2019

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Luke 11B-17 + Homily

15 Minutes 32 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062319.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  Jacques Pantaléon was an unlikely candidate for the papacy, being neither a cardinal nor Italian, since he was the son of a French cobbler. Nonetheless he became Pope Urban IV after having acquitted himself well as Patriarch of Jerusalem. His attentions also involved him in concerns from Constantinople to Germany and Denmark.

   Two months before his death in 1264, he commissioned Saint Thomas Aquinas to write hymns for a new feast honoring the Eucharistic Presence of Christ. There used to be many hymnodic “Sequences,” but over the years they were trimmed down to Easter and Pentecost and, later, Corpus Christi. Although Aquinas had written so sublimely about the Real Presence, Urban wanted song more than prose. Thus we have Pange LinguaTantum ErgoPanis Angelicus, and O Salutaris Hostia. As they have endured nearly nine centuries so far, they are likely to outlast the musical kitsch that guitar-strumming grey heads of a dying Woodstock generation persist in thinking are the heraldic sounds of a New Age. Unlike the works of those more recent composers, whose absent Latin and poor English only serve to express a low Eucharistic theology, the classical hymnody of Aquinas can best be sung in the original and, if sung in translation, needs translators who are accomplished Latinists and masters of English. Two Anglican converts of the nineteenth century, Edward Caswall and Gerard Manley Hopkins, qualified for that.

   The ineffable mystery of the Blessed Sacrament will always be prey to minds smaller than the Doctors of the Church, as they try to reduce mystery to mere human puzzle whose pieces can be arranged according to limited human intelligence. Even in Pope Urban’s age, which by many standards of architecture and scholarship was golden, confusion about the Real Presence in the Mass was spreading. One priest, Father Peter of Prague, while en route to Rome was granted what the Church considers a miracle: blood emanating from the Host. Pope Urban was in nearby Orvieto and sent delegates to inspect the phenomenon. The Feast of Corpus Christi soon followed.

   At the last Supper, our Lord did not subject his apostles to a lecture on how he could give them his Body to eat and Blood to drink. He simply commanded, “Do this.” This is not to deny the vocation of theologians ever since to describe the Heavenly Banquet, but the best of them have known the difference between apprehending and comprehending. “Faith for all defects supplying, Where the feeble senses fail.”

   A Baptist hymn writer in the nineteenth century, Robert Lowry, would certainly have been a bit uncomfortable in the presence of the Dominican master Thomas Aquinas, but one suspects that the Angelic Doctor would have fully empathized with the confidence of Lowry’s hymn:

      The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,

      A fountain ever springing;

      All things are mine since I am his—

      How can I keep from singing?

2019-06-16 -Trinity Sunday

2019-06-16 -Trinity Sunday

June 16, 2019

16 June 2019

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

John 16:12-15 + Homily

16 Minutes 30 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061619.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  An epitaph on the tomb of Bishop Miler Magrath of Cashel in Ireland (d. 1622) reads: “Here where I am placed I am not. I am not where I am not. Nor am I in both places, but I am in each.” His problem was that he had called himself a Catholic bishop as well as a Protestant bishop. Bishop Magrath’s ingenuity for rationalizing brings to mind his contemporary in England, Simon Aleyn, who was unable to maintain the duplicity of practicing two religions at the same time. To retain his position as vicar of an affluent parish in Berkshire, whatever might be the religion of the reigning monarch, he declared himself consecutively Protestant, Catholic, Protestant, and Catholic again, inspiring a caustic ballad: 

      

      And this is law, I will maintain

      Unto my Dying Day, Sir.

      That whatsoever King may reign,

      I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!

 

   There is a political parallel to this malleability in a former Vice President who has decided to run for the actual Presidency as a Catholic independent of the strictures of Catholicism. As Vice President, he officiated at the civil “marriage” of two men in 2016, although he had voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. In 2006 he threatened that if anyone said he was not Catholic, “I’m gonna shove my rosary beads down their throat.” The Bishop of Cashel and the Vicar of Bray could not have said it more eloquently.

   Recently, this candidate reversed overnight his longstanding support of the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal subsidies for abortions. We remember the United States senator who said in 2004 that he voted for a bill before he voted against it, and the Australian senator who explained her position on a tax-cut proposal in 2018: “I said no originally, then I said yes. Then I have said no, and I've stuck to it."

   For Bismarck, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.” I was fortunate to know Congressman Henry Hyde, who counted his amendment his greatest achievement, and I also knew Judge Robert Bork who was slandered by the rancorous attacks of the aforementioned vice president. Both were aware that no one can survive in public life if he naively denies that situations can require compromise and even reversals. But they also knew that when the flip-flop is a matter of life or death, accommodation takes on an ominous character.

   The Bourbon King Henry IV, baptized Catholic but reared Protestant and the champion of a Protestant army, became king of France by cutting a deal: he would declare himself Catholic. “Paris vaut bien une messe.” He decided that Paris was well worth a Mass, but the Church does not consider him worthy of sainthood. Less saintly is anyone who calculates that Washington, D.C. is worth more than a Mass.

     NOTE:

   A fuller version of this topic may be found by clicking the attached link to Crisis Magazine: https://www.crisismagazine.com/2019/the-strange-case-of-dr-biden-and-mr-hyde

2019-06-09 - Pentecost

2019-06-09 - Pentecost

June 9, 2019

9 June 2019

The Day of Pentecost

John 20:19-23 + Homily

17 Minutes 14 Seconds

Link to the Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/060919-day.cfm

(New American Bible, Revised Edition)

From the parish bulletin:

  While experience cautions theologians against the quicksand of politics, politicians not infrequently rush in to theological matters where angels fear to tread. So it was on May 29 when our junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, announced on National Public Radio that the Church is wrong about abortion, homosexuality, and the male priesthood. This puts her at odds with all the saints and doctors of the Church, and with Jesus Christ. The latter sent his Holy Spirit on Pentecost to lead the Church into all truth, and it is hard to believe that he has reversed himself in our Republic’s recent years. Since it is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18), he would be at a disadvantage were he to run for the Senate from New York. This would be a trifling matter were it not for the fact that Senator Gillibrand tells Catholics that she is a Catholic.

   On various issues, Gillibrand has boasted about her “flexibility.” This was evident when, as a Congresswoman representing a district populated by hunters, she enjoyed a 100% approval rating from the National Rifle Association, but when she became a senator, she got an “F” rating from that same NRA, which she has since theatrically described as “the worst organization in this country.” Such flexibility reminds one of Ramsay MacDonald, whom Churchill likened to the Boneless Wonder of Barnum’s circus, a spectacle that his parents judged “would be too revolting and demoralising for my youthful eyes.”

   This mendacity became more egregious in a Fox News town hall televised on June 2 when she said that “infanticide doesn’t exist.” The senator’s comments, aired by numerous media outlets across the political spectrum, ignored the “late-term” abortion bill signed by Governor Cuomo on January 22, as he sat next to Sarah Weddington, the attorney who lied before the Supreme Court during the Roe v Wade case. Gillibrand then defended the “right to make a life and death decision.” But if there is no infanticide, there is no death. This is not a mistake the Holy Spirit would have made, but it does reek of the Father of Lies. The senator’s rant was the rhetorical equivalent of a clumsy saboteur, like Claudius in Hamlet, fatally “hoist with his own petard.”

   Last Sunday in Romania, Pope Francis beatified seven bishops who were martyred after unspeakable tortures during the Communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu. They died in defense of the same Faith that Senator Gillibrand has said is flawed. During the beatification ceremony, the Pope warned against “new ideologies” that threaten to uproot people from their “richest cultural and religious traditions.” He said that there are “forms of ideological colonization that devalue the person, life, marriage and the family” and the faithful must “resist these new ideologies now springing up.” Because of their obedience to the Spirit of Truth, those beatified martyrs will never be known in history as Boneless Wonders.