The 2016 Presidential Election: Voting from a Catholic Perspective (taught in one awesome homily)

This has to be one of the best homilies that I have heard in recent memory and I hear good homilies on a weekly basis from my Pastor and Parochial Vicars at the parish I work for and attend.

This homily needs to be shared with everyone and anyone that is voting this coming election here in the United States of America. Either read it here or watch it below, but whatever you do, please share this your family and friends. This must go viral!

As I have said before on this blog, I am so glad that I live in the Diocese of Phoenix. We are very blessed to have Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and priests like Fr. John Lankeit, my Pastor, Fr. Will Schmid, and many of their brother priests who are not afraid to preach the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

For more information on voting as a Catholic, I would encourage you to read, Catholics in the Public Square, a document in it’s fourth edition and written by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.

To pray for this election, see my post – If we haven’t prayed yet for the US Election…it’s time to start praying! 

More from Fr. John Lankeit, see A Catholic Priest walked into Target today.

Fr. John LankeitFr. John Lankeit is the Rector of The Cathedral of Saints Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Phoenix since June 3, 2006. He has served as the Rector of the Cathedral since June 1, 2010. Fr. Lankeit is a dynamic speaker and homilist. His homilies can be heard here.

Note: After considerable thought and prayer, the comments on this blog post have been closed. Some trolls have shown up, some rather anti-Catholic rhetoric has also been given, but not approved, and extremism on both sides of the argument. Thank you to everyone that did comment.

Phoenix Ordinations and the Catholic Priesthood

Yesterday morning at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Avondale, AZ, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix ordained four men to the Catholic Priesthood – Rev. Mr. Sheunesu Utete Bowora, Rev. Mr. Daniel James Connealy, Rev. Mr. Ryan Christopher Lee, and Rev. Mr. David Michael Loeffler. It was a joyful day here in the diocese as these men were added to the ranks of the Holy Priesthood – “You are a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb 7:17).

vocation boom is happening in the Church – many young men are hearing God’s call to discern and eventually enter the Catholic Priesthood. It’s not as if God stopped calling men to the Priesthood, but what seemed to happen was that young men stopped listening to the voice of God. Many dioceses around the country and around the world, especially in Africa and Asia, are seeing an increase of men entering seminary. Please continue to pray for an increase to vocations to the Priesthood, so that we have more workers in the vineyard for the years to come.

The Catholic Priesthood is a topic that I have written on many times over the past 4½ years. When you witness on a daily basis the great example of holy men from different walks of life, and at different times in their priesthood, you want to share that with others in the hopes that they can experience the beauty and sanctity of the Catholic Priesthood that you see frequently. Although completely and totally human, the men I work with truly live their vocation day-by-day, always seeking to serve the parish/diocese and the culture as Jesus Christ. It is an honor to be around such individuals. For more of my writings from the past, I would encourage you to click on the link at the top of this paragraph to read more about the Catholic Priesthood.

To conclude today’s post, below are short testimonies from fellow Catholics speaking on what the Catholic Priesthood means to them. If you would like to add your own short testimony, I encourage you to do so in the comment section at the bottom of this post.

“Priesthood means allowing God to lead you to where he needs you. It means having a strong enough faith and support system to truly trust fully and give yourself to the Lord in service of him and his church. We need more good, holy, strong men for this vocation. I’m proud if those who answer the call!” – Dena

“My first time [yesterday] attending an ordination mass. It was incredible! Like Jesus, they give up everything for us! To serve us and bring Jesus to the world! I think all priests should forever be in our prayers. We should continually give thanks to God for our priests and follow their example and give everything to God.” – Cindy

“The priesthood is the ultimate example of dying to one’s self a vocation whose motto is “I am Third”. For me they stand as a benchmark in my relationship with Christ. Am I being as compassionate in my relations as Father is with those he comes in contact with? Is my prayer life anywhere near where Fathers is? I learn so much about what I should be doing in my vocation of married life from watching Father in his vocation.” – Chris

Diocese of Phoenix Ordinations 2016

Bishops Thomas J. Olmsted and James S. Wall (Diocese of Gallup) with the newly ordained.

“The Catholic priesthood means we have more workers in the vineyard to help us find or way to true happiness.” – Sandy

“Catholic priests give us the blessing of the sacraments and guidance. It makes sense that we call our priests “Father” because they shepherd us on our spiritual journey. I pray that we will always have priests available to say Mass, give us the sacraments, and guide us closer to Jesus.” – Helen

“As a convert I have a profound sense of gratitude for the priesthood, as I know decades of Christianity without a priest. I have both sides of the coin to compare. When I see a priest I see Christ, the visible reality of living out our vocations. In Holy Communion, in confession, in confirmation and the rest of the sacraments there are my brothers in Christ being Christ for me and ministering to me. In laying down their lives for the sake of the flock they not only provide a holy example, but strengthen my resolve in my vocation and my pursuit of holiness.” – Dave

“Catholic Priesthood means that our Catholic tradition will be carried on by good and godly men…who ascribe to be true followers of Christ. In a time when there are so many assailants to our faith.” – Kathy

“No Priests means no Eucharist and no Sacrament of Reconciliation or other Sacraments. Our salvation depends on them.” – David

“I used to be very critical of priests. I have since, through grace, come to see them as super heroes. Not without human faults, but heroically living out a vocation that is countercultural and contains challenges I will never know. I marvel at their gift of self and hope to imitate them through my own vocation of motherhood.” – Amanda

“Through the Catholic priesthood, I am able to receive the Sacraments instituted by Christ, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. Catholic priests show an intimate love of Jesus, and through their humanity show that we are all able to have this relationship with our Lord. The priesthood relationship with the members of the church is a living example of the love we should all have for our family.” – Mike

“To me the priesthood means Christ representatives on earth who are able to sanctify the people of God through the power of the sacraments. As our shepherds they radiate the goodness, mercy, and love of God. And they bring us the greatest gift ever Jesus in the Eucharist! I am eternally grateful for all the men who have answered the Lord’s call and have given their Fiat!” – Nicole

St. John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests…Pray for our Priests.

This blog post is dedicated to Fr. Sheunesu Bowora, Fr. Daniel Connealy, Fr. Ryan Lee, Fr. David Loeffler, and all the other priests who were ordained this year in the Universal Church, including Fr. Mark Bristol. 

Newly ordained, Fr. Ryan Lee, blessing Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup.

Newly ordained, Fr. Ryan Lee, blessing Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup.

The Chrism Mass and Sacramental Oils Explained

Last night, I traveled across the city of Phoenix to SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass celebrated by the Bishop of Phoenix, Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted. This was the second year in a row I have ever attended the Chrism Mass. As it was last year, it was a solemn and sacred liturgy.

Besides the primary purpose of the Chrism Mass, which is the blessing and distribution of the Sacramental Oils, which I discuss below, there is also another purpose of the Chrism Mass – the Renewal of Commitment to Priestly Service. Bishop Olmsted asks his priests through a variety of statements for their renewal and commitment to the Church. After each statement is read by Bishop Olmsted, the priests in unison, but speaking as individuals respond with, “I am.” Bishop Olmsted then asks for the assembly to stand, and together with one voice, the consecrated religious and the lay faithful pray for their priests and Bishops.

When working at a parish, a year doesn’t go by when someone sees the sacramental oils in the church and asks why do we have three glass jars of oil. The three oils in the ambry are known as the Oil of Catechumens (“Oleum Sanctorum“), Oil of the Sick (“Oleum Infirmorum“), and The Sacred Chrism (“Sacrum Chrisma“).

At the Chrism Mass, Bishop Olmsted, the pastor of the particular church of Phoenix, blesses the oils, which will be used in the sacramental celebrations throughout the year in the churches in Phoenix. In other dioceses across the universal Church, this very same thing occurs.

Sacramental Oils

According to the Early Church Fathers, an image of God the Father was the olive tree. The fruits that bud from that tree are seen as the image of God the Son. The image of God the Holy Spirit is the oil that flows out in every direction as the purest extract of both the tree and the fruit. When the Church uses the blessed oil in its sacramental celebrations, it represents the outward sign of the power of salvation, which is promised in the Paraclete. The people of God are sanctified, that is made holy, by the Holy Spirit.

During the Chrism Mass, right after the Memorial Acclamation, there is the Blessing of the Oil of the Sick. This oil is used for those individuals that are seriously ill. The oil here acts as a spiritual ointment by which the Holy Spirit heals the body and the soul. This oil is also used for those who are dying. In union with the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, the soul is given the firm and final fortification it needs as it enters eternity.

Once the Prayer after Communion is prayed, we then have the Blessing of the Oil of Catechumens and Consecration of The Sacred Chrism. Those preparing for Baptism receive the Oil of Catechumens. Just like the ancient athletes who once fought in the arena covered their bodies in oil as to make their enemies unable to grab hold and hurl them to the ground, so too are the catechumens anointed with this oil to remind them that the Christian life is full of struggle, most especially a struggle with Satan and sin. The oil gives them strength to continue in their daily battles, which mirrors the Old Testament warriors who would rub oil upon their shields as a symbol of God’s strength protecting them.

The Holy Chrism is used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. Through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, the oil in Baptism symbolizes for individuals the rebirth through water and a share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal missions of Jesus Christ. In the Sacrament of Confirmation, the oil reaffirms and strengthens the baptized individual to continue as a witness of Christ to the world. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, through the words of the Bishop, the Holy Spirit anoints the hands of the priest, who will consecrate and distribute the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist.

If your diocese has yet to have their Chrism Mass for this year, I would highly encourage you to attend. It’s one of the great aspects of Holy Week here in Phoenix. As I said above, the Chrism Mass is an experience that all Catholics should experience at least once, if not many times over.

If you have been to a Chrism Mass before or plan to attend this year, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box.

Source:

The Chrism Mass Missal – Diocese of Phoenix. Monday, March, 30, 2015

“A Call to Battle”

On September 30, 2015, I wrote about the newly minted Apostolic Exhortation written by my Bishop, Thomas J. Olmsted titled, Into the Breach. It is a call to all Catholic Men to be what God has designed us to be – leaders and soldiers for our families and to our culture. To read my post, check it out here.

My fellow men: we have been sold a box of dung that looks like roses but smells like garbage. We have been deceived to believe that the tenets of Maxim magazine and things of this nature is what we should strive for in our daily lives. We must regain our masculinity, which has been stolen from us, and we must do this through one person – Jesus Christ. Our Lord is the perfect and most true example of masculinity for all men in all times.

To compliment the aforementioned document, the first ever documentary-style short film has just been released by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix. It is titled – “A Call to Battle”. I just watched it and let me tell you – it’s inspiring! It makes me want to be better in every aspect of my life.

This video must be shared with every Catholic man that you know. This video must be given a wide breach. Please do me a favor and share it on your Facebook walls, your LinkedIn accounts, your Twitter pages, and every other social media outlet you personally hold. If you don’t have social media, then email it to your friends and family. But whatever you do – Share it today!

Pray that the letter, Into the Breach and this documentary, “A Call to Battle” are well received here in the Diocese of Phoenix and that Catholic men will have the courage to subtract the things in their lives leading them away from Jesus, and add those things that will bring them closer to Him. Pray for Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and all the Bishops of the Catholic Church. Amen.

“Mondays with Mary” – 40th Annual Arizona Rosary Celebration in Phoenix, Arizona

Yesterday I attended the 40th Annual Arizona Rosary Celebration in Phoenix, Arizona, with my mom and cousin. I felt the need to attend this year’s Rosary celebration for two reasons: first, mom and my cousin both lost their husband’s this year. For our side of the family, losing Dad has been pretty rough, but we definitely have been able to see God’s hand in all of it. I wanted both of them to have the chance to spend a couple of hours in prayer with the particular church of Phoenix. The second reason why I wanted to attend was simply because I hadn’t been in a couple of years. As the Director of Adult Evangelization and Catechesis, it’s important for me to attend these events.

The Arizona Rosary Celebration is one of the largest events that shows honor to the Blessed Mother and the Holy Rosary in the United States. This year, the celebration displayed devotion to our Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of – Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Many of the parishes from the Diocese of Phoenix are in attendance as well as the Marian ministries that find their home in these parishes. This year, there were three bishops in attendance – Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix, Eduardo Nevares, and Gerald N. Dino, Bishop of the Holy Protection of Mary Eparchy of Phoenix. The keynote speaker was the Redemptorist Priest, Rev. Dennis Billy, C.Ss.R.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

One of the big attractions of this event is the massive procession that walks around the civic center hall. Participating are the parishes, ministries, Arizona Knights of Columbus Councils and Assemblies, and Los Matachines. The parishes and the Knights of Columbus carry and wave their banners, while Los Matachines dance to the beat of the drums. I love being Catholic in general, but being Catholic in the Southwest United States has a whole different element to it. Many of the Los Matachines have a great devotion to the Blessed Mother under her title of – Our Lady of Guadalupe.

After Fr. Billy’s teaching on the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, everyone in the hall prayed the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese while we adored the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration. We concluded Adoration and 40th Annual Arizona Rosary Celebration with Solemn Benediction.

As we made our way back to my vehicle, we stopped outside to watch the Los Matachines dance and venerate an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I realized how very blessed we are to live here in Phoenix. We have such faithful and holy Bishops who are willing to attend such events and lead us in prayer assisting us to deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ and Blessed Mother.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help…Pray For Us. 

175th “Mondays with Mary” 

Into the Breach – Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s Letter to the Catholic Men in the Diocese of Phoenix

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” is a line spoken by Henry V at the beginning of Act III from William Shakespeare’s aforementioned play. This was the first thing that entered my mind yesterday afternoon after seeing the title of the newly published Apostolic Exhortation, Into the Breach, written by the Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix. Just as King Henry V rallies his men to battle, so too has Bishop Olmsted sought to rally the Catholic Men of the Diocese of Phoenix with this letter.

Knowing that it was about to be released, I was excited to read it quickly, not realizing that I was going to read in within hours of its initial release for the simple reason – I could not put it down! As a Catholic man, this letter says to me that there is so much more that I should be doing in my daily life. It makes me realize that some of the decisions I chose in my youth were not the best for me. It helps me realize that I am not alone, that other men, “bands of brothers,” are fighting just as I am fighting. Finally, it makes me realize that even in dark times, the light of Christ’s hope shines for all to see.

This Apostolic Exhortation is truly a rallying call to not only the Catholic men of the Diocese of Phoenix, but to all Catholic men in every diocese in the Universal Church. The two words that came to mind when I read this letter are – Boldness and Fortitude. Bishop Olmsted speaks to his “spiritual sons” in the way that we need to hear it. Using analogies such as an athlete, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the British Spy Agent, James Bond, the Ordinary of Phoenix articulates what true and real masculinity should look like today.

Using the words of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Francis, and other Popes and Saints, Bishop Olmsted examines all aspects of the masculine nature. In a time when the culture is trying to destroy masculinity and femininity like never before, this letter stands as a direct order to the men of this diocese, and all dioceses, to stand up, to speak up, to be boldly Catholic, and to do battle against Satan and all his allies. The opening paragraph of the letter states,

“I begin this letter with a clarion call and clear charge to you, my sons and brothers in Christ: Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men. This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real. It is primarily spiritual, but it is progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our own homes.”

This opening paragraph mirrors what I have been telling my now RCIA Catechumens and Candidates since the beginning of August. The Church has always been at war with spiritual forces, and at times, physical forces, but for us today in the early years of the 21st century, we are engaging in a specific battle that is part of the overall war. To place it in context of the Second World War, we are in the Battle of the Bulge. Just as the Battle of the Bulge was a German offensive, the battle we fight today finds its offense in the Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s. As the Allies fought the offensive; so we must do the same today.

With this all being said, let me entice your spiritual appetite a little more to personally pick up and read this Apostolic Exhortation by quoting some points that stand out for me, although there are many more that I could share –

“A true Catholic man stakes his life on this proposition – that all is made new in Jesus Christ.”

“Be confident! Be bold! Forward, into the breach!

“We truly encounter Christ at Mass when we receive the very gift of Himself in the Eucharist. For this reason, I call upon my brother priests to awaken the sense of transcendence in the hearts of men through reverent and beautiful liturgy, helping men to rediscover Jesus in the Eucharist each and every Sunday…Teaching men to understand the fullness and power of the Mass must be a top priority.”

“Men, we must never believe that holiness and courage are things of the past! You and I are called to a holiness that shows Christ to the world as our forefathers have done countless times throughout history, following the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

“Do you, my sons, have true brothers in Christ in your life?”

“Next, let us seek to understand more deeply man’s calling to spousal love. Every man is made to live as a husband and a father in some way: “God assigns the dignity of every woman as a task to every man.” Each man is called to commit and give of himself completely.”

To read the Apostolic Exhortation, Into the Breach, click on the link and you will be brought to the main page where you find English and Spanish translations. I would also encourage you to watch the trailer as well. It looks like there is going to a video/film aspect of this letter. When I find out more about it, I will write about it on my blog.

Pray that this letter is well received here in the Diocese of Phoenix and that Catholic men will have the courage to subtract the things in their lives leading them away from Jesus, and add those things that will bring them closer to Him. Pray for Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and all the Bishops of the Catholic Church. Amen.

St. Jerome…Pray for Us.

Happy Birthday, Bishop Olmsted!

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted

I would like to personally wish the Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, Thomas J. Olmsted, a very happy and blessed Birthday. We are beyond grateful and blessed to have you as our Shepherd in the Diocese of Phoenix. Your leadership inspires many and your desire to unite yourself with Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church brings others closer to Our Lord and Savior each day. You are truest example of the Christian and pro-life warrior. Thank you for your unconditional prayers and love you show each and everyone of us in the diocese.

May Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother, and all the Angels and Saints be with you on this day of your birth.

For more information on Bishop Olmsted, I would encourage you to check out his page on the Diocese of Phoenix website. Check out the Catholic Sun’s page for Bishop’s views and other writings.