About This Site

Recent Homilies

Reflections on Faith

Conversion Stories

Ask the Deacon

Suggested Links

Deacon Tom's Website: Homiletically Challenging -- Passionately Catholic.
(With apologies to my friends at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH)

NEW! NEW!.... Look for Deacon Tom on the wonderful Catholic Family Website hosted by David and Allyson Sweeney. You can find them at www.catholicfamilypodcast.com -- and be sure to listen to David and Allyson on your computer, or your IPOD, or MP3 player. The Sweeneys offer a view of Catholic Family living as seen from the right....

Now read Deacon Tom at CatholicMom.com!

Reflections on Catholic Faith - November 2009 - A Month for Giving Thanks and for Action

Looking for more reflections? Click on any of the links below.


December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009

December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008

December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007

December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006

November 23, 2009


Our bags are packed and we are soon out the door for a retreat .... and soon to be celebrating Thanksgiving in Missouri with our daughter and family. We will miss you - there is reason to give thanks for being able to participate in daily worship with friends and fellow church members. And like countless others in America, we will stop to pray in Missouri -- giving thanks for our blessings of faith, family and for our traditional meal. Dee & I will remember you all in our prayers of thanksgiving.

After we finish in Missouri, we’re going to swing directly west and go through Colorado on the way back home. We’ll stop to visit our old parish family in Estes Park. They are putting announcements in their bulletin that we’re coming... and they’ve invited Dee & I to their long-time Wednesday morning Bible Study group -- followed by a wonderful luncheon. We’re hoping to see many, many of our friends there.

The last time we were there, I was the deacon when Bishop Conley, the Auxiliary Bishop of Denver came and did a Mass and blessing for the parish expansion which started before we left Estes Park. The Catholic Church pays great liturgical attention to new Churches or major expansions of them. After the Mass of dedication, we escorted his excellency as he processed, leading us in prayers, sprinkling and blessing the various parts of the expanded parish.

Now while the reason for prayerful re-dedication was far different in the reading from Maccabees that we’ve used today, you can see in our roots how the Jewish people believed in the sanctity of the Temple.
You can hear how they went through a purification ceremony for the temple.  The reading today said that the people prostrated themselves and adored and gave praise for the gift of the Temple. Imagine people bent over towards the floor, reciting the words from our Responsorial: We praise your glorious name o God!

There was no edifice more prominent than the Temple -- recognized by Jews and Christians as the house of God. Temple was the place of worship, prayer and sacrifice. Later, the Temple played an important part in the story of our Savior. And we see how important the Temple was to the Son of God -- Jesus Himself quoted Scripture when He said, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer...”

I bring up these readings and thoughts about our places of worship for two very different reasons. I’d like to hear your thoughts after you’ve had a chance to think about these...

First - I’ve recently broadcast a short internet reflection on the topic of people and their conduct in our churches these days. In my reflection, I said that I’ve heard people in church talking about sports... about new vehicles... about medical procedures or a restaurant they’ve tried... All of these things while sitting in church in front of Jesus. An example? Just a few Sundays ago, a woman here in our own parish came over to me and asked me if I could please have people be quiet so she could concentrate on her prayers... and she was right - there was a heck of a lot of loud chatting and laughing going on before Mass.

Now what is interesting is that just days after my broadcast on the internet - I was listening to a Catholic woman professor who was speaking on the topic of our Catholic parishes and how they need to be more friendly... more outgoing... and not like the “Jesus and me” silence that existed before Vatican II. So her thoughts were in direct contrast to what I spoke about. 

Okay now, the other topic concerns some thoughts about how we could institute a sort of a Founder’s Day - a day of celebration and renewal in the parish. It ought to be an annual event. It could be a day-long remembrance with Mass and prayer and thanksgiving. We could consider offering refreshments and ice cream or pie.... letting people know how much we offer Thanksgiving to God for our Church. You may not believe we need to prostrate ourselves as they did in early biblical times...  and I think we could discuss that topic too... but we would do well to honor the way Jesus felt about places of worship... remember the words from scripture: Zeal for your house consumed me.

Can any of us say that we enter here filled with zeal? Yes we have ladies who lovingly clean and decorate our Church... praise be to God. But those actions are maintenance and seasonal tasks.. I’m talking about gathering for the express purpose of giving thanks to God for our Church.... praying for the laity and priests who are a part of our history and legacy... and dedicating the day to intentions for renewal in our parish.

Those are my thoughts... I’d love to hear yours. Happy Thanksgiving.

Reading 1
1 Mc 4:36-37, 52-59

Judas and his brothers said,
“Now that our enemies have been crushed,
let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it.”
So the whole army assembled, and went up to Mount Zion.
Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month,
that is, the month of Chislev,
in the year one hundred and forty-eight,
they arose and offered sacrifice according to the law
on the new altar of burnt offerings that they had made.
On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it,
on that very day it was reconsecrated
with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals.
All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven,
who had given them success.
For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar
and joyfully offered burnt offerings and sacrifices
of deliverance and praise.
They ornamented the facade of the temple with gold crowns and shields;
they repaired the gates and the priests’ chambers
and furnished them with doors.
There was great joy among the people
now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed.
Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel
decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar
should be observed with joy and gladness
on the anniversary every year for eight days,
from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev.

Responsorial Psalm
1 Chronicles 29:10bcd, 11abc, 11d-12a, 12bcd

R. (13b) We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Blessed may you be, O LORD,
God of Israel our father,
from eternity to eternity.”
R.        We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power,
majesty, splendor, and glory.
For all in heaven and on earth is yours.”
R.        We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Yours, O LORD, is the sovereignty;
you are exalted as head over all.
Riches and honor are from you.”
R.        We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“You have dominion over all,
In your hand are power and might;
it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.”
R.        We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.



Lk 19:45-48

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purposebecause all the people were hanging on his words.

November 16, 2009


You don’t have to be at our parish very long before you know that our pastor has been to many places in the United States -- and many places around the world. I’ve also heard that some of you are quite well traveled as well. My international travels aren’t that extensive -- but they do include a pilgrimage of sorts to Italy. I do want to say again what I have preached about before -- going to Italy was like going to the roots of our faith. To be in that land and walk among the places and sites that saints and popes walked... and church history was made -- oh gosh it was so wonderful.

In his book THIS IS ROME -- H. V. Morton wrote: “It is extraordinarily interesting that Roman pilgrimage began at an…early time. Pilgrims did not wait for the Peace of the Church [Constantine’s edict of toleration] before they visited the tombs of the Apostles. They went to Rome a century before there were any public churches and when the Church was confined to the tituli [private homes] and the catacombs. The two great pilgrimage sites were exactly as today—the tombs, or memorials, of St. Peter upon the Vatican Hill and the tomb of St. Paul off the Ostian Way”

Isn’t it interesting that the St. Peter’s Basilica that we see on EWTN - the most famous church in Christendom and so massive in scale -- was at the same physical place that people came to pray over the tomb of St. Peter’s in those earliest days of the Church. . And now -- when you go to the Vatican -- you can take what is called the Scavi Museum tour -- and go down under the very altar where the Holy Father and others say Masses.
And you can go down, down, down through centuries of rock and history until they take you to the very place where the bones of St. Peter are believed entombed.

I have a friend back in Colorado who has spent extensive time in Italy as a part of her own pilgrimage many years ago. I mentioned that there used to be a roof supported by marble pillars that ran the length from St. Peter’s Basilica to St. Paul’s Basilica. She said “Oh no -- that isn’t possible -- they were miles apart.” Well in fact it is true -- and I think it so very interesting that the early Catholic Church would link the burial places of St. Peter and St. Paul... we would likely not have had the Catholic Church as we know it were it not for God’s grace and power acting in these two men.

About Peter and Paul, the Franciscan website has these words:  Peter, the rough fisherman whom Jesus named the rock on which the Church is built, and the educated Paul, reformed persecutor of Christians, Roman citizen and missionary to the Gentiles, are the original odd couple. The major similarity in their faith-journeys is the journey’s end: Both, according to tradition, died a martyr’s death in Rome—Peter on a cross and Paul beneath the sword. Their combined gifts shaped the early Church and believers have prayed at their tombs from the earliest days.

Today -- we honor not the marble columns nor the expanse and grandeur of these places of worship -- we honor Christ who vested such responsibility in these two leaders -- and in whose Church we now celebrate their memories.

November 9, 2009

Thanksgiving for the Church

Monday blessings and peace. We had a wonderful weekend, complete with  good food, good company and good companionship. And most assuredly, the weekend Masses that I did as a deacon were awesome too.

How many of those who see these words would classify their parish or the Masses or their faith community as gifts? I really do wonder. Most assuredly our feelings of ‘relationship’ with the Church are not that different than the relationships in our families. I’m sure they ebb and flow. Sometimes we’re deliriously happy. Some times we might wish we could pick others to be family with. I have some of this in me... but a visit to Italy in 2004 sure helped my love of the Church and our Catholic Faith.

When we finally got to Rome -- we went to the plaza (piazza) outside of St. Peter’s Basilica. The next day, we got our tickets for a general audience with his holiness John Paul II. It was so moving... so touching to see and feel the love. The people loved... really loved the late great Pope. And even though he was quite slowed by his deteriorating physical condition -- you could tell he loved the people. He brightened and was buoyed by the applause and song and palpable joy of that event.

We saw so many other places in Rome and environs. We visited and learned that the St. John Lateran basilica is the pope’s main church. He is the Bishop of Rome, and his cathedral for the Diocese of Rome is St. John Lateran. The location dates back to the 4th century when Constantine accepted land from the Lateran family and then he himself donated the land for a Church site. It is described as one of the most imposing large-scale edifices of worship next only to St. Peter’s basilica.

Tradition says that a wooden altar is contained under the main altar of St. John Lateran. The wooden altar is supposed to have been used by St. Peter himself celebrated Mass.

There is so much history and legend and beauty in Italy. I’ve often said that going there was like going back to the roots of our faith. I remember our last day of touring -- my wife Dee and I went to one of the catacombs. To walk down on the 2nd floor level and place my hands into the loculi (the cut outs) where the bodies of martyrs and saints were once interred... to see larger cut-out rooms where altars existed - and in some places still exist... This is like touching the dirt and reality of the year 100 A. D. As we were coming out of the catacombs -- I heard some noise and saw light spilling out down a corridor that we didn’t enter. I left our tour group and quickly moved over to the area of light and noise. There was a priest and a group of perhaps 25 people. The priest was saying Mass in French... repeating what may have taken place there at the time of the persecutions of Christians.

Lord our God -- I give you thanks for our (often flawed, but always Sacramentally perfect) Catholic Church. Help me to be in action -- Christian action to share my faith as the martyrs did.

November 4, 2009

Charles Boromeo and Health Care

Today -- I’d like to spend the moments of this reflection on the topics of health care and Charles Boromeo. I like Charles Boromeo for many reasons...he was a deacon for a time. And many deacons need an intercessor to help make it to heaven. And unfortunately, I have very many areas where I am not like this saint.  Charles took the initiative in giving good example. He allotted most of his income to charity, forbade himself all luxury and imposed severe penances upon himself. He sacrificed wealth, high honors, esteem and influence to become poor. During the plague and famine of 1576, he tried to feed 60,000 to 70,000 people daily. To do this he borrowed large sums of money that required years to repay. Whereas the civil authorities fled at the height of the plague, he stayed in the city, where he ministered to the sick and the dying, helping those in want. Work and the heavy burdens of his high office began to affect his health. He died at the age of 46.

St. Charles made his own the words of Christ: "...I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me" . Charles saw Christ in his neighbor and knew that charity done for the least of his flock was charity done for Christ.

Now -- my wife and I went to a local restaurant this Sunday to celebrate our anniversary. We sat in a booth and it happened that we were quite near to others from our parish... I am sure they didn’t know who I was or they couldn’t see. And they were talking at great length about the H1N1 flu... and about how they were told not to hold hands by the priest. And so this  topic of the sign of peace and touching and flu is what they gabbed about. And then -- on the Sunday television news -- what comes out of Phoenix and one of the Catholic Churches there? Words and video footage on not touching each other... and concerns about the common cup. I mean -- if you drink from the cup and if you get swine flu -- and if you die, the theory is you go to Heaven... what’s the important issue here?

American bishops have taken a stand on healthcare reform, and they are calling us to take action to protect human life. In an official USCCB statement, they conclude that EVERY current bill being considered is "seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience" and that they will "vigorously oppose" legislation until changes are made to protect the unborn. For more information you can go directly to the USCCB website.

We are at a crucial juncture. Catholic adoption agencies have already been shut down in certain states because of same-sex marriage legislation. There are 624 Catholic hospitals in the United States in danger of being forced to provide abortion services. Virtually every Catholic hospital has the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, yet we are on the precipice of living in a country where politicians expect Holy Communion to be distributed in the same building where the unborn are being cut into pieces and vacuumed out of the wombs of their mothers.

Our bishops are urging you to contact Congress. They want an emergency insert distributed in the bulletins of parishes everywhere. We ought to obey our bishops with enthusiasm, time, and talents. In our Masses -- each day we should, remember bishops in your intentions in a special way this week.

I’ll close with a couple quotations... Joseph White issued this stinging indictment of our times: "As a resident of the Death Regime known as modern times and the comfortable, prayer-free, hi-def television prosperity it provided, I fear the spiritual laziness I allowed it to foster will tip the scales of my judgement against me at my death. When Our Lord shows me the teaming ocean of unborn babies, what will I say to Him--Sorry, I was watching American Idol?

Cardinal Newman said "The Catholic Church claims not only to judge infallibly on religious questions, but to judge or disapprove on opinions in secular matters which bear upon religion, on matters of philosophy, of science, of literature, of history, and it demands our submission to her claim."
And probably most important: “If anyone comes to me without hating ....  even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. This is not a time to play nice and get along. This is a time for truth... and action.
Note: I thank the Franciscan website Saint for the Day for information on Charles Boromeo. And I thank the Catholicity website for their words and information on the current efforts of our USCCB to get us motivated to do something about proposed health care changes.

Bishops' campaign declares war on abortion funding in health care
Washington D.C., October 30 (CNA) .- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is calling on Catholics nationwide "to prevent healthcare reform from being derailed by the abortion lobby," the conference said on Friday. The unprecedented campaign encompasses 19,000 parishes across the country, and asks the faithful to fight for restrictions on abortion funding in the health care bills by contacting their congressmen.
Because the USCCB has championed the cause of health care reform for over a decade, their current effort is extraordinary.

"The bishops want health care reform, but they recoil at any expansion of abortion," explained Helen Osman, USCCB Secretary for Communications.

The bishops, who described the mobilization of parishes as "a make or break effort," have already told Congress in a letter, "If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously."

While the grassroots effort does not appear to have risen to the level of outright opposition, the bishops also reiterated in their bulletin insert that "our nation is at a crossroads. Policies adopted in health care reform will have an impact for good or ill for years to come."

The time line for influencing members of Congress appears to be short, with a vote on the bill expected in early November.

The Catholic bishops are also pushing for affordability, access to health care for legal immigrants and the protection of consciences.

"Genuine health care reform is much needed and should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of conception until natural death. Mandated coverage for abortion should be excluded and longstanding policies against abortion funding and supporting conscience rights should be included. No one should be required to pay for or participate in  abortion," they said, reiterating that no current bill meets these criteria.


Reading 1
Rom 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, You shall not commit adultery;
you shall not kill;
you shall not steal;
you shall not covet,
and whatever other commandment there may be,
are summed up in this saying, namely,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 112:1b-2, 4-5, 9

R. ( 5a) Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
R.        Alleluia.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R.        Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
R.        Alleluia.
He dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice.
R.        Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
R.        Alleluia.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R.        Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
R.        Alleluia.



Lk 14:25-33
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way,
everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”
© 2006-2009 Deacon Tom Online

Site Map      Reflections on the Catholic Faith    Home