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Homily – Thanksgiving Day – Fr. Conner – 11/25/2021

Thanksgiving Day – 2021

We have special reasons for being Thankful at this Thanksgiving. We have successfully passed through the threat of the covid and we can rejoice in the fact that as a nation we have avoided the threat of losing our democratic form of government. As Christians we join together to celebrate, recalling the message of Isaiah:  I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted to us”. And we all have SO much to be thankful for. We can be thankful for the fact that Jesus Christ has loved us to such an extent that He became flesh and died an excruciating death in order that we might live. We can be thankful for the many blessings He has bestowed on us, both material and spiritual blessings. We can be thankful even for those who may not still be with us this Thanksgiving. They are still closer with us than we can imagine, for they are one with us in Christ Jesus. And as the second reading from Paul tells us: “Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And be thankful”. We are thankful for the fact that God Himself has chosen us to be His very own adopted children through the primal gift of His Son Jesus Christ.

The gospel  tells us of the ten lepers who were healed by the Lord, but only one who returned to give thanks. All too readily we tend to identify with this one. But in actual fact, in our daily lives, are we truly the one or are we rather the nine others who fail to give thanks? St. Paul tells us what true thankfulness entails: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, patience. And above all put on love”. The sole leper showed true love by eagerly returning to the Lord in a spirit of humble gratitude. He knew that he did not deserve this miracle, yet precisely because of this, he comes all the way back to give thanks to God. It is precisely his knowledge that he did not deserve the miracle which made him all the more grateful.

We are all deeply conscious of the fact that we have done absolutely nothing to deserve God’s merciful gifts. Yet this very fact makes us only all the more thankful. God chooses each one of us solely because he has first loved us. He has loved us each to the extent of taking on Himself our leprosy in order to cover us with the new flesh of His own divinity, making us truly one in Him in love. He shares this very flesh with us in this Eucharist which we celebrate now. He asks only that we continue to show our gratitude in the very ways that we relate to Him in one another.

True thanksgiving must be filled with a spirit of Eucharistia – thankfulness. Jesus has set the example of this in giving us the very Sacrament of the Eucharist at the very time that he was about to be given up to suffering and death. Even then he could cry out “I thank you, heavenly Father!” and that is what He wants us to cry out also  in every circumstance of our lives.

Only then can we truly celebrate Thanksgiving not just as a single day of the year, but as the basis of our daily lives and ways of truly living with one another in a spirit of love and trust and faithfulness. Then when the day arrives when we return to the Father,

Jesus will be able to say: “Here are the other nine!!”



Chapter Talk – Fr. Michael Casagram — Advent Season and our Monastic Lives 11/28/21

+THE ADVENT SEASON AND OUR MONASTIC LIVES                     ChapTalk 28 Nov.2021

This morning I thought to share a few reflections on the Advent season. It is a busy time for us here at Gethsemani with all the orders coming in and our efforts to get everything shipped out in time for Christmas. The fact that so much of the income by which we support ourselves comes in at this time may seem to distract us from what is most important, the coming of God into our daily lives, but it need not do so at all, as long as we let it all to become the vehicle of Christ’s drawing near to us and filling our lives. Merton in his book Seasons of Celebration helps us to fully appreciate the grace of this season as he writes:

The Advent mystery focuses the light of faith upon the very meaning of life, of history, of man [humanity], of the world and of our own being. In Advent we celebrate the coming and indeed the presence of Christ in our world. We witness to His presence even in the midst of all its inscrutable problems and tragedies. Our advent faith is not an escape from the world to a misty realm of slogans and comforts which declare our problem to be unreal, our tragedies inexistent. (p. 89)

Because of all that is going on at our time with global warming, the Covid pandemic, the polarization happening in Church and society we may begin to wonder where is God in the midst of it all? It is not easy to discern but we can be sure that Christ is right here with us, ready to help us with all our discernment.

As a reminder of this living presence, ready to assist us with whatever we may be struggling with, Merton writes in an earlier in his book Seasons of Celebration:

Advent is the ‘sacrament’ of the presence of God in His world, in the Mystery of Christ at work in History through His Church, preparing in a hidden, obscure way for the final manifestation of His Kingdom… The twelfth century Cistercians place a special emphasis on the coming of Christ by His Spirit to the Christian Person. Like the Rhenish mystics they contemplate His hidden birth in our lives, His Advent here and now in the mystery of prayer and providence. (p. 61)

We cannot be reminded often enough of how the season that has just begun, is the “sacrament” of God’s presence in the world and in each of our lives whatever the struggles may be. This season is a constant reminder of “coming of Christ by His Spirit” into our everyday Christian lives. It is this presence that enables us to live our monastic calling to the full. The busyness going on in the shipping department is the very occasion of Christ’s coming, as well as anything else that may go on in our service to the community.

Everything we do has the potential of being the sacrament of Christ’s life giving presence, of helping  us “to unite all things in Christ” as St Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 1:9-10). Let me draw once more from Merton’s appreciation of our early Cistercian tradition:

The sacramentum  which St Bernard finds in Advent is the sacaramentum, the mysterium of which St Paul writes to the Ephesians. It is the ‘sacrament’ (or ‘mystery’) of the divine will, according to the design which it pleased Him to form in Christ, to be realized in the fullness of time, to unite all things in Christ. This mystery is the revelation of God Himself in His Incarnate Son. But it is not merely a manifestation of the Divine Perfections, it is the concrete plan for the salvation of men [and women] and the restoration of the whole world in Christ. (p.63)

Christ is making all things new as we allow his presence to penetrate more and more of our daily lives. Despite the crises we see in our world today, God’s Beloved Son is doing something entirely new. So let us enter more confidently into this time of Advent, assured that God is using our very hidden and humble efforts each day, to bring about the transformation of the world in which we live.

Homily – All Saints – Fr. Carlos Rodriquez 11/1/21

Homily for All Saints by Fr Carlos                                     1 Nov. 2021

Why do we still celebrate All Saints’ Day when all the while we are celebrating Saints’ feast day through the year: St. Thomas Aquinas on Jan. 28; St. Augustine on Aug. 28; St. Theresa of Lisieux on Oct. 1; Jan 26 our Holy Founders etc.  Beside these saints we celebrate yearly there are countless other saints and martyrs, men and women and children united with God in His glory whom we do not celebrate.  Many of these would be our own parents and grand parents who were heroic women and men of faith.  Today we keep their honorable memory.  IN many ways therefore, today’s feast can be called the feast of the Unknown Saints, in line with the tradition of the Unknown Soldier.  We celebrate what the first reading called, “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.  Rev. 7 :9

Our feast today gives us a peek into our own eternal destiny.  It confirms the existence of heaven.  That the just person attains his or her fullness only beyond earthly existence.  It gives courage and strength and hope to those who  live the Way of Christ amidst unsettling hostilities shown  against those who are determined to live a good life, to persevere in spite of threats to life.   The saints we celebrate are human like all of us.  Where we are now they used to be and where they are now we hope to be.

As Christians we believe that our life story is not limited between the day were born and the day we die.  Our story starts before we are born, at our conception, and goes beyond the day we die, to all eternity.  That is why we do not simply forget people after they die.

Didn’t St. Therese of Lisieux say that she would spend eternity doing good on earth?  IN our mortal eyes she is dead and gone.  One minister told me why do Catholics pray for the dead.  They are dead and no longer with us.  IN the eyes of faith we know hat she is alive now more than ever.  This is our consolation when a dearly beloved dies.  We hope that they are in heaven helping us.  The church declares, by canonization saints who are in heaven.  It would be uncharacteristically catholic for a catholic not to believe that a canonized saint is in heaven.  We hope that our loved ones are in heaven but we believe that The Saints are in heaven and so we are, assured by the church.    Unfortunately, our reaching the fullness of life with the saints does not happen automatically.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who dos the will of my Father in heaven.”  Matt 7:21.   How do we live the Father’s will.  The beatitudes point us in that direction – the Fathers wills them for us.  It’s a kind of map to eternity.

All the Saints we celebrate today walked the hard and narrow path of the Beatitudes to arrive at heavenly bliss.  It is a hard and narrow path for those who do not believe.  For the Saints it was the sure way to heaven.  The Beatitudes challenges us not to talk about insights and inspirations.  They remain in the mind until we walk in it.  The world today needs doers of the Word.

The beatitudes propose to us a way of life, inviting us to identify with the poor, those who mourn, the meek, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.  They challenge us to be compassionate people, to be men and women who are pure in heart, and to become the peacemakers in our dealings with one another, in our families, community and society, even when this approach to things exposes us to ridicule and persecution.  It has  nothing to do with going into ourselves and making ourselves holy by our private devotions.  If the beatitudes are not present in our devotions or private spirituality then it is a false spirituality that does not want to take the narrow paths the Saints have taken.  We will not hear the words of the Lord, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter the joys of your master.”

In the early church All Saints was celebrated with as much pomp and joy as Easter.  This is the feast of every triumphant human soul, the feast that mirrors the hope of every Christian.  The Church professes to the world that there is an existence after this life on earth.  This profession is so important for our world today when many, even Christians, live a life as if there were no tomorrow beyond our space and time.

All Saint’s Day is a joyful day because it is the consequence of traversing the narrow paths to holiness.   As it is often the case our unenlightened spirituality makes us avoid these narrow paths: we cannot be disturbed in our relation with God, we are deaf to those who come for help, we take for granted the needs of those around us because we are busy talking to God and doing good things for Him.  Most of the time our self understanding of holiness is God and me alone, the rest are just bothering my concentration with my relationship with God.  All Saint’s Day reminds us that not all those who say Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven.  It will only be those who spent their time and energy for the sake of others for after all the God whom we want to communicate with is in them.

A happy and blessed All Saints’ Day to all.

Presentation by Fr. Michael Casagram – Early Cistercian Love for the Advent Season 11/24/21


In the following presentation I will be drawing heavily on Fr Louis’ or Thomas Merton’s reflections on the early Cistercian love for this season. So let me encourage each and all of you to spend some time with his book Seasons of Celebration. It draws heavily on the writings of St Bernard but covers also what all the early Cistercian writers like Aelred of Rievaulx felt about and loved so much, in this coming season. Merton begins the first three chapters from his book with these words:

“Advent is the ‘sacrament’ of the presence of God in His world, in the Mystery of Christ at work in History through His Church, preparing in a hidden, obscure way for the final manifestation of His Kingdom… The twelfth century Cistercians place a special emphasis on the coming of Christ by His Spirit to the Christian Person. Like the Rhenish mystics they contemplate His hidden birth in our lives, His Advent here and now in the mystery of prayer and providence.”

Merton gives us a lot to ponder in these words. Advent as a sacrament reminds us of how Advent carries a sacred message as a time set apart, provides us with a special opportunity for encountering the living God. God’s beloved Son, Jesus, is ever present to each of our lives but this season is an especially graced time if we use it to taste the nearness of the living God, if we allow ourselves the time to contemplate “His hidden birth in our lives.”

Merton goes on to say that:

“This is the special presence of God in the world that fascinates them and draws them to Him in meditation upon the Bible, where He is present in His Word and in the light generated by that Word in the heart of the believer.”

So much of our Christian lives is summed up in these words for to truly live our faith is all about allowing Christ to live in us and through His love to touch the hearts of all with whom we are in daily contact. This divine presence becomes a living fire in our hearts as we expose ourselves to the Divine Word always available in the sacred scriptures. I will come back to the whole discipline of sacred reading or lectio divina later on but enough to remind you of its importance during this special time of Advent.

God is continually seeking to be revealed in our world today and as scripture has reminded us, we are living in the fullness of time (Eph. 1: 9-10) when all things are to be united in Christ. “This mystery,” Merton reminds us, “is the revelation of God Himself in His Incarnate Son. But it is not merely a manifestation of the Divine Perfections, it is the concrete  plan of God for the salvation of men [and women] and the restoration of the whole world in Christ.” God is not seeking only our human renewal but that of the whole of creation as we have become so much aware of with the dangers of climate warming. Every aspect of our human lives is being touched and renewed by God as we allow God’s loving presence to touch and rejuvenate our lives.

God’s incarnate presence desires nothing so much as to touch and make new the whole of our human lives and all of creation around us. More and more I have become aware of how  pervasive this divine presence wants to be if we will allow it to be. Merton talks about the way our early Cistercians found all they could ever have hoped for  to be already present and realized in a hidden manner by our observance of this season. He writes in his Seasons of Celebration:

“The Kingdom of God is thus already ‘in the midst of us.’ But, the mystery can only be known by those who enter into it, who find their place in the Mystical Christ, and therefore find the mystery of Christ realized and fulfilled in themselves. For these, the Kingdom of God is mysteriously present. They not only enter the Church, or enter Christ, but Christ becomes their life (for me to live is Christ). They participate in the glory of the saints in light. (Col. 1:12) In a certain sense they become the ‘Church’ since they live entirely by the Church, and the Church lives in them.

Again Merton is reminding us of what I think we need most to be aware of during this Advent season. God is really very near to each one of our lives, dearly seeking to free us of all alienating influences of our past, if we will allow this presence to penetrate, to free our hearts of all that may stand in the way of an inner transformation. God wants nothing so much as to find the mystery of Christ “realized and fulfilled” in everything we think or do, will or say.

For St Bernard and the early Cistercians there is this abiding need “of our finding Christ the Savior here and now among us” for they saw all too clearly our helplessness in facing the demands of daily life. They saw clearly the three sources of misery that we experience, 1) how we are deceived in our judgement of good and evil, 2) how our attempts to do good fail, and lead to nothing, 3) how we fall short in our efforts to resist evil. It is only with the presence of Christ in us that allows us to overcome these obstacles. Only with Him in our hearts are we able to judge clearly between good and evil. “By fortitude He strengthens out weakness, so that we can do all things in Him. He never grows tired, for He is the power of God, ever ready to revive us and lift us up. But we must call upon Him for help in our battles.” With Him at our sides, in our hearts, we have all the strength we need to resist evil.

Often enough this interior warfare is not easy for any of us to engage in on a daily basis but if we are to be truly Christian it is this dying to self that enables us to be authentic witnesses of our faith. If there is one lesson I have learned from my years of living the monastic life, it is my need to continually turn to our beloved redeemer, the Lord Jesus, if I am going to be faithful to my calling. And this is not only something I have to do weekly or daily but throughout the day if I’m going to be true to my deepest longing.

A great help in this matter is our monastic exposure to the Word of God throughout our life, the fact that we are exposed to the psalms seven times a day and to at least some part of Sacred Scripture each hour of the Office. There are everyday experiences of the Word of God in your own lives and as a final invitation, I would just want to encourage you to make the most of these. For the early Cistercians, exposure to God’s living Word was a constant source of growth and renewal in their lives. In fact, as one reads the works of St Bernard, it is hard to tell whether it is he who is writing or it is just one more quote from Scripture.

His whole way of thinking is biblical. Let my offer one final quote from Merton and I will conclude with this:

“We do not have to travel far to find Him [the Christ]. He is within us. This idea is also basically Pauline: ‘Do not say who will scale heaven for us?, as if we had to bring Christ down to earth or, Who will go down into the depth for us?, as if we had to bring Christ back from the dead. No, says the Scripture, the message is close to thy hand, it is on thy lips, it is in thy heart.’ [Rom. 10:6-8] This is the ‘verbum fidei, [the word of faith]’ the spoken word which plants the seed of faith in our hearts and introduces into the Mystery of Christ or the Pascha Christi. It is by the word of faith, or the verbum crucis [the word of the cross], that the ‘Advent’ of Christ becomes a reality in our personal lives.”

Thankfulness – Sermon by St. John Henry Newman

Thankfulness in our everyday lives,

 from a sermon by St. John Henry Newman1

It would be well if we were in the habit of looking at all we have as God’s gift, undeservedly given, and day by day continued to us solely by his mercy. He gave; He may take away. He gave us all we have, life, health, strength, reason, enjoyment, the light of conscience; whatever we have good and holy within us; whatever faith we have; whatever of a renewed will; whatever love towards him; whatever power over ourselves; whatever prospect of heaven. He gave us relatives, friends, education, training, knowledge, the Bible, the Church. All comes from him. He gave; he may take away. Did he take away, we should be called on to follow Job’s pattern, and be resigned: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”(Job 1:21) While he continues his blessings, we should follow David and Jacob, by living in constant praise and thanksgiving, and in offering up to him of his own.

We are not our own, any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves; we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We cannot be our own masters. We are God’s property by creation, by redemption, by regeneration. He has a triple claim upon us. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter? Is it any happiness, or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous. These may think it a great thing to have everything, as they suppose, their own way,–to depend on no one,–to have to think of nothing out of sight,–to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgment, continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another. But as time goes on, they, as all others, will find that independence was not made for man–that it is an unnatural state–may do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end. No, we are creatures; and, as being such, we have two duties, to be resigned and to be thankful.   – over –

Let us then view God’s providences towards us more religiously than we have hitherto done. Let us try to gain a truer view of what we are, and where we are, in his kingdom. Let us humbly and reverently attempt to trace his guiding hand in the years which we have hitherto lived. Let us thankfully commemorate the many mercies he has vouchsafed to us in time past, the many sins he has not remembered, the many dangers he has averted, the many prayers he has answered, the many mistakes he has corrected, the many warnings, the many lessons, the much light, the abounding comfort which he has from time to time given. Let us dwell upon times and seasons, times of trouble, times of joy, times of trial, times of refreshment. How did he cherish us as children? How did he guide us in that dangerous time when the mind began to think for itself, and the heart to open to the world! How did he with his sweet discipline restrain our passions, mortify our hopes, calm our fears, enliven our heavinesses, sweeten our desolateness, and strengthen our infirmities! How did he gently guide us towards the strait gate! How did he allure us along his everlasting way, in spite of its strictness, in spite of its loneliness, in spite of the dim twilight in which it lay! He has been all things to us. He has been, as he was to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our God, our shield, and great reward, promising and performing, day by day.

1 Parochial and Plain Sermons,  San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987,  pp. 1003-1005.

Homily – Fr. Michael Casagram – Benedictine Saints 11/13/21

+Today we celebrate all the Benedictine Saints, including some of our own order fresh in our minds, namely the beatified Algerian martyrs of the Atlas monastery. Then there is the Bl. Cyprian Michael Tansi, the Nigerian monk of Mt St Bernard’s in England, the Bl. Maria Gabriela of Italy and St Rafael Arnaiz of Spain, all of whom remind us of our own call to holiness. And so, let us for God’s mercy as we enter into these holy mysteries.

(Isa 61:9-11; John 15:1-8)

With the Saints God makes “justice and praise spring up before all the nations” as we just heard from Isaiah. In them we see what God looks to see in each of our lives. As we remember them in the liturgy we are all given incentive to realize our full potential.

We can be sure that our own lives will be constantly pruned as were theirs, often due to circumstance they could never have anticipated. We have only to remain in Christ as he remains in us , if we are to bear much fruit, for without him we can do nothing of lasting value. There is the simple fact that without Jesus in the forefront of our undertakings, we fail in whatever good we set out to do.

The unspoken correlative of this is that remaining in him, we too will do all that the Saints we celebrate  today did, do all that is of everlasting value. May they be our constant guides us along the path.

Homily – Fr Michael Casagram 11/15/21 – Worshipping in Spirit and Truth

+WORSHIPING IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH      Church Dedication, 15 Nov.’21

Jesus tells us in our gospel that true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth! It does not matter where we are or what we are doing, we have the opportunity at all times, to worship in Spirit and truth. We worship God as often as we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, let our lives carry out the will of God however this may become manifest day by day.

Jesus telling the Samaritan woman that the time for true worshipers “now is,” revealed to her that something entirely new was happening in and through his presence. Authentic worship takes place as the result of God’s eternal Word  taking on our human condition. Our human nature being united with God’s divine nature makes us true worshipers of God. Through this union of natures in Christ St Paul tells us we “are no longer strangers and sojouners, but.. fellow citizens with the holy ones and member of the household of God… Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord.”

This Church was first dedicated back in 1866 after the hard work of many monks and hired laborers, some of whom were black slaves though Gethsemani never own slaves of its own. The first abbot of Gethsemani, Dom Eutropius had hired back in 1852 the architect William Keely to design a three storied monastery and the church modeled on our motherhouse at the time of Melleray in France. Under Dom Benedict Berger, Eutropius having resigned, was the abbatial church finally finished and consecrated.

The Divine Office and the Eucharist have been daily prayed and sung in this place ever since except for the renovation that went on in the 1960’s. Consecrated  indeed as these walls are, what makes them holy, truly dedicated, are the living members of this community. Gathering here day after day we open ourselves to the transformative grace of the Work of God and the Eucharist. In a profound way  this Solemnity celebrates our life together. In this place we share in Christ’s very own prayer for the whole of humanity. As we allow it to rise up from the depth of our hearts and minds, these walls are made sacred and give glory to God.

What we are about to do at this altar takes place every moment our monastic life as we freely and joyfully embrace the divine will of God as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemani. Every morning bread and wine are brought to this altar to become his very Body and Blood.. What takes place at this table is to take place all day long, as often we allow the Holy Spirit to be revealed in all that we think, do or say. The mortar that holds together the bricks of these walls is above all the love we have for one another, amid all our flaws and human weakness. In us, in the heart of every Christian true to the faith, God’s own beloved Son takes flesh for the transformation of our world today.

Our early Cistercian father St Bernard sums all this up so beautifully:

“My brethren, if by our abundant supplies of spiritual bread we are proved to be the house of the great Father of the family, if the possession of sanctity shows us to be the temple of God, if peaceful participation of a common life gives us the character of a holy city, if fervent love marks us out as the bride of the Immortal Bridegroom: then I believe I need have no hesitation in affirming this to be our own solemnity. And be not surprised that this festival is observed on earth, since it is observed also in heaven.”

(2 Chron 5:6-10, 13-6:2; Eph 2:19-22; John 4:19-22)

Homily – Fr. Anton – 11/14/21

The Gospel:  Mark 13:24-32
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
“And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’
with great power and glory,
and then he will send out the angels
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
“Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates.
Amen, I say to you,
this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.
“But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
After the Gospel: 
I don’t remember the name of the movie, just the part where their mother is over in the corner of the log cabin, she’s been on her deathbed for awhile, in and out of coherency, with her three sons standing around, helpless.
Suddenly, the old woman bolts to consciousness, sits upright in bed without help, no suggestion of pain, stares up at some distant point, and utters her last words: “I never knew He was so  beautiful!’
It was her appointed day.
There was the Son of Man coming for her in clouds with great power and glory.
Only she could see the angels and hear the trumpet blast,
see Him standing there in light brighter than the sun.
The only words she could think of: “I never knew He was so beautiful.”
That was the day the Son of Man came with his angels,
and suddenly for her,  it was the end of all things created and the beginning of something new.
Brothers and sisters, we’re approaching the end of 2021.
Nature is dead. Fallen leaves rustle under out feet.
Next Sunday marks the end of our liturgical year, so our readings today focus on one aspect of Jesus’ teaching: The Last Day, when He will come in all his power and glory, and the heavens and the earth we know will pass away.
How often do we wonder what it will be like for us at the end of this life, when Jesus returns?
Is the end at hand now, or not … how will it happen?
AND … most important…  Is there really something to come after this world?
Hollywood can produce any number of Dooms Day scenarios, they’re all blockbusters.
People get fixated,  led astray, trying to interpret “the signs of the end times,” trying to be scientific, to predict and prophesy the imminent end of the world.
Sometimes they say, “The time of Jesus’ coming can’t be known, so we don’t have to think much about it.”  But our Gospel  draws the opposite conclusion: since the timing is unknown, we should think about it all the time!
Some people believe, “The unknown time could be hundreds, or thousands, or a million years from now. Not in my lifetime.”     Mark, however,  draws a very different conclusion: since the timing is unknown, it could be today! Maybe this evening, or at midnight, or when dawn breaks.
But it will be in our lifetime! For each of us, there will be a Last Day. 
We’re all caught in between how the Bible describes the Apocalypse,
and that last verse from today’s Gospel: “about that day or hour no one knows…but only the Father.”
For Bro Frank, it was the Feast of St Joseph, March 19.
For Bro Chrysostom, it was  Labor Day, September 6.
Each of us will have our own Last Day. some sooner, some later. 
Christ’s words are not to frighten us but to challenge our complacency, convince us to be vigilant, to be prepared. The day of his coming will be a day of joy rather than fear, it’ll bring salvation and a new life. But we can’t be caught unawares when that mysterious day comes. As Pope Francis told reporters during his recent hospitalization: “My bags are packed. I’m ready to go.”
Our Creed states what we believe: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Today’s Gospel clearly wants that belief to be part of the way we live our daily lives.
His “second coming” shouldn’t be simply a doctrine we officially subscribe to on Sundays, it has to be a reality that impacts our faith and the way we live.
But does anyone actually think that way? Does anyone go through every day, wondering  morning, noon, and night if now is the time that someone long gone might return?
Well, people in love do that.    They wait.
With joyful expectation, one lover waits for the other.
Which is the best context for explaining what Mark intends with his little apocalypse description.  Elsewhere in the Gospel, Mark compares the time of awaiting Jesus’ Second Coming to the newlywed waiting for the return of her “bridegroom” who has been unexplainedly delayed…  there she is, faithfully waiting in love.  (Mark 2:20).
When are you coming, Lord? When!?   For the past two millennia, Christians have looked to the future and asked, “When, Lord, when?”
Jesus had one answer:   “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”.
In every Mass, we work to keep the invisible world visible, right in front of us.
Christ is with us,  not with us as he once was, and  not with us as he will be!
But He is here giving us love, giving us something in life that cannot pass away: His pledge of life eternal. 
Today, starting with the Creed,  listen for the times,
count the number of times we pray for the Lord’s Coming again …
No, it’s not unexpected.
May our only surprise be as we say: “I never knew He was so  beautiful!’

Homily – Fr. Alan Gilmore – Rooting our Faith in God

The first and third of today’s readings (32nd Sunday) refer to widows. The readings about them deal with the symbolism of ‘giving’, actually self-giving! Both of these
widows are clearly persons of faith. They seem calm and peaceful – even as the widow in the first  reading informs Elijah that she and her son will soon die from starvation!  Their actions display a profound  trust in God. They realize that the future is in God’s hands.  Their lives most certainly have been hard. They have no doubt  suffered. They have struggled.  And in the struggles of their lives they have learned  one of life’s central facts: We are not in charge!  God is! We don’t choose to be born  or to die, nor of much that happens in between. These widows, on the surface, appear  to be nothing of  worth, nothing of value.  With a closer look, however , we see that these ‘poor’ widows possess a priceless understanding of God, of what life is all about.
They have learned that: what gives meaning to their lives, what make their struggles have purpose, what gives them  calm certainty to their lives is knowing WHO is ultimately in charge.
We can, and often do, forget that!  It is especially easy to forget, when through real effort, we may have achieved some  worthwhile accomplishment, and life is progressing smoothly.  It often takes a hard knock from life to bring us back to reality.  The concrete ways that we choose to respond to those reality checks sets the tone and purpose of our lives – and the end of virtual reality for us!
God our Creator knows we can come to understand the nature of  how life works, how reality operates.  God knows that his Son has graced us with the Gift of the Eucharist.  When our relationship with God is rooted  in that Great Gift, we know that, as the psalmist says, “The Lord  keeps faith forever”! It is in this relationship  we will know that God is God and that we are God’s instruments.  That’s how it is and not vice-versa! When with God’s grace, we figure that out, our lives will display that same calm spirit of faith-filled certainty of the holy unnamed women whose praises are sung in today’s Scripture Readings.
As we prepare to celebrate this Eucharist today,  let us thank  God for the gift of our life and faith , and ask for the grace and courage to imitate – in real ways in our life – these two widows.
This 32nd Sunday of Ordinary time comes quite near the end of the Liturgical year. The readings for these last Sundays are meant to remind us that time too shall end; to remind us of a far more  dramatic and final  End.
Every year there is information and misinformation concerning the end of the world. There is a good  deal of it today. Two thousand years ago the Apostles thought the Lord would return in their day.  For the Christian, the Catholic, the End   will be the Second  Return of the Lord.  During every Mass we pray for that Great Day. Listen: ”We wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior”, “He will come to judge the living and the dead’”  ”Lord  Jesus come in glory!”, ”Ready to greet him when he comes again”,  and “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come !”  When he comes,  he will, Paul remind us in today’s 2nd Reading “Bring  salvation to those who eagerly await him.” God grant that we, widow- like, may be among them!       Come, Lord Jesus!
( l Kgs l7, l0- l6, Heb 9, l4-28, Mk l2, 38-44)                   Fr Alan