19th Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 9, 2020

I.  Onward Brescia! “Brescia University is the center of Catholic higher education in Western Kentucky. I encourage you to invest in Brescia today. Since its beginning in 1950, Brescia has been the beacon of higher education throughout the area. Certainly the unselfish dedication of the Ursuline Sisters over these many years has been a great witness. Please join me in support of our college” (Bishop John Jeremiah McRaith in 1989). Our donation will be matched up to $25,000. Learn more about the “Catholic Connection Grant” for high school students to continue their faith-based education at the university. Brescia University is Committed to Making a Difference in our Catholic Church! Be generous on August 8/9 on Brescia Sunday! 

II.  Cell Block 14:  A prisoner escaped from Auschwitz on July 30, 1941. In retaliation, the commandant from this notorious Nazi camp in Poland, lined up inmates of Cell Block 14 and ordered that 10 of them be selected for death. When one of the ten cried out that he would never see his wife and five children again, another prisoner stepped forward to volunteer to take his place. That man was Maximillian Kolbe. Astonishingly, his offer was accepted. Kolbe and the other prisoners were locked in a death bunker with nothing to consume but their own urine. He passed the time leading his companions in prayer, preparing them for death. When, after two weeks, Kolbe and three others were still alive, the Nazis injected them with carbolic acid. 

      On October 17, 1971, I was privileged to be present in Saint Peter Square in Rome for the beatification of Father Maximillian Kolbe (1894–1941). The man for whom Kolbe died was present and wept during the entire Mass. What a humbling and inspiring beatification! Come to Eucharist on Friday, August 14, at 12:05pm, to remember St. Maximillian Kolbe, but also another Man who died for you and me.

III.  The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary became dogma at a time when the forces of technology, industrialization, and unfettered capitalism began to take precedence over the dignity and sanctity of the human person and the environment. As the dignity and the sanctity of life–from conception to natural death–continues to be neglected, how do we respond as people who hold fast to a faith that is incarnational? How do we uphold that all of this world (all of creation) is sacred and meant to be regarded with respect and dignity?

         The Assumption of Mary into heaven was proclaimed as a dogma of our faith on November 1, 1950 by Pope Pius XII, but this observance, formerly known as “Dormition” or “falling asleep,” has been celebrated on this day from the middle of the fifth century. We profess our belief that Mary has gone before us, body and soul, into heaven “because she belonged to Christ.” You are invited to celebrate this Holy Day Mass (the obligation is lifted) at the Cathedral at 9:00am on Saturday, August 15. 

IV.  Walking on water! Keeping our Eyes on Jesus! In today’s Gospel (Matthew 14:22–33) when Peter begins to sink, Jesus catches him and declares, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” For the times our faith has faltered, we ask pardon and healing. These first disciples of Jesus tell us a lot about what it takes to be a Christian and a “fisher of men.” Peter’s vocation to build the Kingdom of God required all of the attributes he had honed as a fisherman: physical labor, patience, trust, and humility. We, too, are called to make missionary disciples—to put our muscle behind building a just and peaceful society, to cast out our nets again and again in hope, and most importantly, to develop the tenacity to keep trying in the face of failure. Just like Peter, we are not alone in our efforts; walking on the stormy waves of today or sitting in a boat beside us, Jesus, the Lord of life continues to call out, “Take courage. . .Do not be afraid.”

V.  “Act justly. Love tenderly. Walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8): These words are etched on the bottom of the paten which my parents gave me as an ordination gift along with the hammered silver chalice. This command from the prophet, Micah, has challenged the “daylights” out of me over the past 45 years as a servant priest. Little did I know on August 9, 1975, what was in store for me as I responded to Bishop Soenneker, “I am ready, with the grace of God.” Truly aware of my weaknesses, sins, and inadequacies, I realize how much of that journey has been pure Grace. It’s good to be on a journey with you. I thank you for your ever-present support, active faith, and sustaining love. We’re in this together! In lieu of any gifts, please help me to help those in need. Please make checks payable to the Saint Stephen Cathedral, Attention: Charity Assistance Fund.