Sat. & Sun., June 16 & 17, 2018
11th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Last Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Imlay
Legacy, Councils and Blessings
“Let us begin with Christ.” So I began my homily
on July 4, 2010, paraphrasing a Stoic Greek
philosopher named Aratos, whom St. Paul quoted
in his famous speech in the Areopagus in the
Acts of the Apostles.
I was still moving in and living out of boxes.
So now I say, “Let us conclude with Christ,”
and once again I’m moving and living out of
boxes! In fact, if I count correctly, this is
the 18th time I am moving since the
time I was about 13 years old! Now it’s time for
me to move on to another mission – for every
priest is a missionary in some, way, shape or
form: a beautiful mission with young scholars in
Wyoming Catholic College. I depart in just a
couple days. While I look ahead with great
joy and apostolic zeal to the path before me,
for now we all must endure the sorrowful parting
I draw now to the conclusion of eight of the
best years of my life, for which I am
immeasurably grateful to both God and to you. I
have no doubt that God will provide even more
happiness in your future and my future, but that
it will all be different. Yet could we not say
the same thing every day of our lives? I think
God calls, and we each must follow. Wherever
you lead me, Lord, whenever you call me, to
whichever mission in whichever place, no matter
what the price, your will be done – I desire
nothing else. No two paths of God’s call is ever
the same; and whatever it was in the past for
each of us, it will always be different in the
future. I myself have fought hard to follow my
priestly vocation, and I marvel at the
opposition and hostility to my priestly calling
which I have and still do continually feel from
certain persons – may God forgive them, I truly
Now, as I move on, I reflect upon the fact
that I am highly forgettable. So I mused about
how to remind you all to pray for me in the
future. And I found a solution! When priests get
ordained, sometimes they have “ordination cards”
printed with one’s name, the date of his
ordination, and a spiritual thought. I have
ordination cards, and I will make them available
in the social hall during our reception after
Mass today. I invite you to insert that card
into a favorite prayer book so that you may bump
into it from time to time. And when you do,
please say one Hail Mary for me, and I shall be
the more in your debt.
Now let us look back a little, and summarize
some of what has been. Thereafter I wish to give
you my exhortations as a final legacy so that
you all may become saints in heaven. And I hope
you’re not in too much of a hurry today, as this
is my last chance to speak with you, and my
heart burns with many words.
When I arrived, again back in that July of
2010, I pointed out this obvious fact, that it
is the priesthood that has brought us together.
Since then I have striven only to bring you
closer to Jesus Christ, to Mary his Virgin
Mother, to St. Joseph, to the Angels and Saints
and to the Catholic Church for the salvation of
your souls. Important to this goal was the
rehabilitating a parish ravished by
embezzlement, liturgical laxity and general
doctrinal ignorance; a reformation, so to speak,
which sometimes brought hostility especially
from the quarters most needing reform.
Since then, I have stressed: the Eucharist,
the Sacred Heart, the reading of Scriptures, the
Blessed Virgin, the sacred liturgy, prayer,
virtues, penance and good works: basic Catholic
stuff. I’m so delighted at how well most of you
have responded to all of that. My work was
highly focused on the children: for example, the
doctrine of catechism classes, the Areopagus,
the Trailblazers, the little girls Latino choir,
our superb altar boys, the teen Theology
programs, and so on. How I love the children and
young people of our parish! All the endless
administrative labors of finances, buildings,
properties and parochial activities have never
been the end, but the means, to these higher
As I mentioned, there are some who resisted,
not only at the beginning, but to this very day.
One puts forth the Gospel, and one is hated for
it – that’s always been the way of Christianity,
so I take it as a good sign. And as I’m still
your pastor until June 30, I have the
responsibility before God to straighten what is
crooked [enderezar lo
que es torcido], and I would sin
should I stay silent about it.
So: In some cases it was simply personality
conflicts. In other cases, immaturity. There are
some who were and are simply complainers –
always complaining, always pulling out the
microscope to find something wrong, always
construing empty words to justify their
pettiness, and all the while never lifting a
finger to actually do any good. For some, it was
a matter of resisting growth, for I was pushing
them like a good coach, and they had grown too
comfortable with their mediocrity and fruitless
routine of life. In the hearts of a smaller
number, however, there was a true contempt for
the Catholic tradition of liturgy, doctrine,
piety and discipline. I have even found people –
sometimes people in Archdiocesan offices, even
lay people who have never even met me face to
face, who have positively sought to do me evil,
destroy my good name and undermine my good works
– who can understand such malice? I have
procured to do good to my enemies while they
have done me evil; and I am glad, for Jesus told
me to love our enemies, and so these people help
me grow in imitation of Christ. And God will
judge each person for his deeds when he dies, so
I’ll leave it to the Lord set things to justice,
while I hope they repent and find his mercy
before that terrible hour.
But that’s a small, damaging few. That’s not
all of you. The majority, almost all of you here
today, remain the sheep of my fold, my spiritual
children, brethren in the spiritual battle and
good friends. God has blessed us with
friendship, with good memories, invitations to
your homes, presiding over your weddings and the
baptisms of your children, preparing the youth
for their confirmations, admitting some adults
into the Catholic Church, volunteering and
donating for so many different projects which
have made our parish flourish. Even our holy
funerals – by which our parish has done its part
to fill up the dwelling places of heaven. And
who can forget our beautiful consecrated
sisters, who have become dear to us all!
As a father sees his children grow, and is
proud of them – healthy pride, not the pride of
Satan – so I have seen you grow spiritually, and
I am so incredibly proud of you. I have
accompanied your battles and your perseverance
in confession and sometimes spiritual direction.
I have had the privilege to feed you with so
many devout holy communions. We have shared so
many enriching spiritual conversations. We have
often prayed together. And as I have taught, so
I have learned.
In the style of the proverbial passages of
the Scriptures, now I wish to leave you a final
legacy in the form of exhortations.
Battles lie ahead; be not afraid, for I have
trained you, or at least tried to.
say to my beloved Trailblazers: “Rule number
one: No complaining!”
Center your life around the Eucharist, and visit
the Eucharist often.
Mary, Joseph and the Angels, let them be
friends, guides and intercessors for you.
Change yourself and stop being a busybody to
change everybody else. [entremeterse]
for happiness in love and selflessness, but
never in money.
gossiping; nothing good ever comes from it, and
it is sinful.
follow your feelings, they are stupid and blind,
and make bad guides.
you come to a fork in the road, choose the
thank you often.
you are young, and think God just might be
calling you to the priesthood or consecrated
life, be courageous and give it a try, and God
will bless you.
wolves in sheep’s clothing, do not be lured by
false doctrine or liturgical abuse.
Resist the culture of death – abortion,
euthanasia, contraception, sodomy, promiscuity
and adultery. (Have you noticed how the culture
of death and the culture of impurity are two
sides of one same coin?)
Forgive evil, but do not turn a blind eye to it.
evil, but do not use the methods of the wicked.
Do not fight evil with evil, fight evil with
be proud and resisting when you are challenged
or corrected. Keep silence, be humble, accept
the correction if it is accurate, and then
improve yourself; in this way you will grow.
Imitate Jesus when the crosses of life come:
catastrophes, disasters, wars, sickness, death,
poverty, failure, humiliation and pain. There is
no other way to follow the Lord except under his
and pray often.
off your TV, internet and cable as often as you
sagacious and not naïve when false prophets tell
you alien doctrines.
happy-clappy “feel good” liturgical
celebrations. Better it is to weep and cry for
love and contrition at the altar of Jesus’
not be a closet Catholic – take your faith to
the public square.
Cultivate relationships face to face, and not
face to screen.
to bring one new person every year into the fold
of the Catholic faith.
forget that one day you will die, that life is
short, and that eternity is long.
from evil, and pursue what is good. And if you
fail, you can always start over again in the
sacrament of reconciliation – always!
Second to last, I say, with St. John, “Love one
another!” Spouses, serve each other and be
respectful. Speak good and not ill of one
another. Do unto others as you would have them
do unto you. Give to the poor, and make sure no
one knows about it. Forgive those who do you
evil. Make sacrifices for those around you
without counting the cost. Be helpful, and do so
with cheer. I repeat, “Love one another.”
last I say what summarizes all these things, an
exhortation most of our teenagers know all too
well: “Be good and say your prayers!”
helpings of good advice could go on all day; and
as I give this advice to you, I give it also to
myself. For, as St. Augustine once put it, “With
you I am a Christian, but for you I am a
priest.” Now I should wrap things up, so that my
words may give way to that living Word who is
Jesus, the Word of God, the Son of the Father,
born of Mary the Virgin, and lord of the Angels.
He will soon descend upon the altar to be
present in his sacrifice, our manna in this our
pilgrimage of life – truly present, in his
entire Incarnation, yes even physically present
under species of bread and wine. The
Eucharist! It is this for which God
created me, it is this for which he called me to
the priesthood and it is this which binds us in
charity both in this life and the next.
I have done all I could to show you the path
of God’s will in the One, Holy, Catholic and
Apostolic Church. Now it’s time for me to let go
of your hand, and for you to trod down that path
without me. I do not say “alone,” for you have
all the invisible friends of the angels and
saints; but also, God in his merciful Providence
always provides us all with friend and mentors
to accompany us on this life-long road of
Emmaus. See your journey with the eyes of faith,
and then your hearts will burn as you walk along
the way, and that fire will be light for others
when you least expect it.
Part of my vocation in life is to teach
and remind Catholics of who they are.
Millions upon millions of Catholics suffer from
spiritual amnesia, and they don’t know
who they are. To remind you, I have used the
Scriptures, the Magisterium, the history of
Israel and of the Church and the lives and
writings of the saints. Are you Catholic before
all else? I hope so.
[*Sp/E] My dearest friends in Jesus
Christ our Lord, I will miss you greatly. But
only for a time. For we all hope for heaven.
There we shall drink together a wine more
delicious than in Cana. The wedding banquet of
the Lamb will never end. There we shall bask in
the light of the sun who is God himself,
listening to the ecstatic singing of the angels,
swapping war stories of our past years on earth,
and laughing at old grief, the sorrows of this
world. We shall meet the saints, and never die.
Enemies will be reconciled and best of friends.
Death and sickness shall never afflict us, and
all will be radiantly beautiful [resplandeceremos
con hermosura] in body and soul. No
one shall ever take such happiness from us. So
let us make an appointment at such a banquet,
and not say farewell, but say, “I’ll see you at
For such a great boon we beg the intercession
of Mary, Joseph and the Angels, to whom I offer
praise and gratitude for all the blessings they
have obtained for us especially in these last
eight years, from the hands of God the Holy
Trinity, to whom belongs all praise and love
forever and ever. Amen.■