A Rare Occurrence—Remembering and Embracing a Homily

Bible and Crucifix               Public Domain

By Larry Peterson

Many love the Mass, and I count myself among them. What transpires during this splendid celebration of life, death, resurrection, and redemption is what we call the Mystery of Faith. We honor the life of Christ; we journey with Him as He is tortured and killed, and we rejoice in His Resurrection, which heralds our salvation. United, we all say in one voice, “We proclaim Your death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.”

As often as possible, I attend daily Mass and have been doing so for many years. I have heard many sermons at these Masses. However, I have something to admit, something I am not proud of; I rarely remember homilies. I do not know why that is. I did some research, and according to the Pew Research Center, the average length of a Catholic homily is 14 minutes. (Mainline Protestants are at 25 minutes; Evangelicals at 39 minutes).

One-third of Catholics say they are “very satisfied” with homilies, while fifty-two percent say they are ‘somewhat satisfied.  Fifteen percent say they are ‘not at all satisfied.” Statistics on those who “did not remember” sermons eluded me. Therefore,  I assume that there are others out there that are in the non-remembering category like me.

Then came Wednesday, September 13, 2020. HALLELUJAH—-a homily that STUCK. And it was about LOVE—and what is the Mass about?  It encompasses the Greatest LOVE. And the purity of it all was simply splendid. It all was because of 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 13:1-13.

Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians is read in its entirety during this Mass. I will only focus on verses 4 thru 7. This is where Father Kevin (our pastor) tied together these verses that made them (at least for me) most memorable. He presented it in such a way that I now  believe this part of the reading should  be made available to all Catholics, including children, as a tool to teach us what love truly means. I’m a senior citizen and I have heard this reading many times. My wife and I even chose it for a reading at our Nuptial Mass. And the wonder of these words never clicked in for me until Father Kevin gave us this easy technique to use. It was a simple case of adding and subtracting. Let me explain.

The reading from 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 is as follows: “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous,  it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interest, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoings but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Now, here comes the adding and subtracting with the subtracting coming first. What we simply do is take the word LOVE and references to LOVE i.e.: “It is” or “it does not” out of the reading. and replace each removal with our own name. See the sample below. My name, LARRY, will replace the word LOVE.  See what happens.

“LARRY is patient, LARRY is kind. LARRY is not jealous, LARRY is not pompous,  LARRY is not inflated, LARRY is not rude, LARRY does not seek HIS own interest, LARRY is not quick-tempered, LARRY  does not brood over injury, LARRY does not rejoice over wrongdoings but rejoices with the truth. LARRY  bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

The short reading about LOVE becomes a personal self-help tool. Having your name replace the abstract word, LOVE, might help us refocus, get our bearings, check our emotions, and remind us how God wants us to be. He wants us to be like Him, and God is LOVE. Imagine having this for not only yourself but also your children. A printed card posted on the fridge with little Jack’s name or his sister Sally’s name written in place of the word LOVE could be a reference point. “Okay, kids, enough! Go read the cards. See who you really are.”

This could be our personal reality check about Jesus and LOVE. After a while, it would stick inside all our heads. We adults might have business-size cards in our pockets or wallets with this printed on it. If you are having a trying moment, reach for your card, and read it.

Interestingly, the Responsorial Psalm for the day was Psalm 33. “Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be His own.”  Yes, that is us and being counted among the chosen requires all the self-help tools we can have. One final thought, I timed it , and it only took me fifteen seconds to read it.

Semper meminisse, est amor Dei   (Always remember, God is Love)

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Does God send us “signs,” to let us know He has heard our prayers? You Decide.

–Looking into her eyes, he said, “There is Victory over Death.”

Jesus Hug                                                                            pinetrerest.com

By Larry Peterson

I recently attended a funeral Mass and during the few minutes before the Mass started, something extraordinary happened. I believe God sent a messenger to share with all those in attendance an affirmation of what we proclaim to believe; that there is Life after Death.  It all happened within a few moments, and it was entirely unexpected. How many people actually paid attention, I do not know.

The messenger’s name was Ann Marie. (interesting that Our Lady’s name is Mary and her mother’s name was Anne).  The usual protocol at a Catholic funeral Mass is that after the Mass ends, family and friends can get up and say a few words about the departed. At this Mass, Ann Marie went up to the ambo immediately before the Mass began. The funeral was for her dad, and she wanted to say a few words about him before the Mass started.

For those of us who have lost loved ones, incidents happen after their passing that some take as a “sign,” For example; a photo of the loved one suddenly falls from a shelf landing in front of us; a sudden smell of her perfume or his after-shave fills the room; a knock on the door and you find no one there. These incidents can sometimes give a person a message which they believe tells them, “all is well and not to worry.” The flip side is it can cause others to feel their loss even more while others may not pay any attention to them. Most times, “signs” are just coincidences.

But the most prominent ‘signs” seem to come from dreams.  The Bible has many stories of people having dreams. St. Joseph was visited three different times by the angel in his dreams. We know that it was a dream that saved the baby Messiah’s life. So, I believe, as do others, that we do receive “signs,” especially if we are experiencing significant personal loss. Often, these signs come to us in dreams. Maybe it is God’s way of helping us through our grief.

Ann Marie looked out over the now seated congregation and began to speak. Her demeanor was steady yet sad, and her voice was soft yet clear. She wanted to tell us about her dad.  She just spoke from her heart about a guy named Jerome Schreiber, who was called “Jerry” by everyone except  Ann Marie, who called him dad.

  • Jerry was born in 1926 in South Ozone Park, Queens in NYC. He worked for the Brooklyn Union Gas company and was a mechanic for them until he retired. Jerry was a devout Catholic, a member of the Knights of Columbus, and was the type of man that helped make America the greatest country in the world. He was all about God, Family, and Country.
  • First, Ann Marie spoke of his kindness, gentleness, humility, compassion, and love for all people. Then she paused and told everyone about “The Dream.”
  • Two days after Jerry passed, Ann Marie had a dream. It was clear and vivid with perfect sound. She was in bed and her dad was standing at the front door of their house looking in from the outside. The light outside was brilliant and he was standing in it, smiling at Ann Marie. Looking into her eyes, through his smile, he said, “There is Victory over Death.”

On this day, in Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Pinellas Park, FL., Jerry Schreiber, a Catholic man who lived a life filled with the love of God, family, and neighbor, and had journeyed to his heavenly reward two days before, sent us all a message. It was a message we can love and embrace, a message that can reinforce and fortify our sometimes doubtful faith.

His daughter, Ann Marie, was gifted by a visit from her deceased dad who gave her the message. God’s grace told her to share it with us all. She did that and we, in turn, should share it with others. So let us  never forget Jerry’s message;  “There is Victory over Death.”

For those who believe no explanation is necessary—For those who do not, none is possible.” St. Thomas Aquinas

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


The Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) Take a peek inside the Love that is the Holy Trinity

Catholic Mass                  en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

I attended Christmas Day Mass at 8 a.m. in my church; Sacred Heart in Pinellas Park, FL. We have a Mercedarian priest, Father Mike Donovan, who has been with us for several months and he was the celebrant. Father used the Roman Canon in this Mass. (Canon is the word used that refers to the fundamental part of the Mass that occurs between the Offertory and before Communion).

Before 1970, the only canon used during the Mass was the Roman Canon. Today’s standard missalettes carry six Canons; Eucharistic Prayers I thru IV and two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation. The altar missal used by the priest has nine;  (the ones mentioned and there are three for children’s Masses). It seems the one most commonly used today is Eucharistic Prayer II.

The Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) was put in place by Pope St. Gregory I in the seventh century. It remains virtually unchanged to this day. However, since the new versions of the Eucharistic Prayers were included in the Novus Ordo Mass, it seems that Eucharistic Prayer I is rarely used. I do not know why this is, but it certainly has withstood the test of time.

In the Roman Canon, there is a rare beauty captured by the words written, and these words create visuals that can carry us to a different place. If you focus, listen, and read quietly along with the priest, you may actually get a tiny glimpse into heaven itself. Just let yourself feel the words grab you, and transport you to a different realm.

When you “arrive” you may be able to peel back the veil and take a peek behind it. You might watch as the greatest love story ever told or imagined is taking place.  It is the story of the perfect LOVE that exists within God and among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit Who is God. This is about the most profound mystery of our faith and how this perfect LOVE is about to be shared with us. It is the greatest of gifts imaginable, and all of us who choose to accept it are about to receive it.  But how does the Canon of the Mass take us there?

I have before me a copy of the Breaking Bread Missalette for 2018. I also have a copy of the St. Joseph Daily Missal from 1956. One is post-Vatican II; the other is pre-Vatican II.  The Roman Canon is the same in both. So let me share just one of the visuals I have mentioned. First we should all be aware that all of the canons are directed to God the Father.

We believe that through the consecrated hands of the ordained priest, Jesus is going to sacrifice Himself to His Father for us. The Father will accept this Gift of His Son’s human life and return His Risen Son back to us in Holy Communion. This is the Great Mystery of our Faith.

I will only mention a few words from this magnificent, 7th-century document that I believe capture it all. After the words of consecration are said, and the Body and Blood of Jesus are on the altar, we all recite the mystery of faith. Then the priest continues with:

Therefore, O Lord  (referring to the Father) as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, WE, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim,  the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

We move down and read of Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, and the offering of the priest, Melchizedek. So try to picture what happens next when God the Father hears our prayer:

In humble prayer we ask you, Almighty God; Command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high in the sight of your  divine majesty, so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar, receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, and may be filled with every grace and blessing

(Through Christ our Lord. Amen).

As we watch the angel take our gifts up to heaven and then return them to us from our Father, we finish with the following words (how many of us really think about them) before the Communion Rite begins:

Through Him , and with Him, and in Him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever. AMEN.

All the Eucharistic Prayers are beautiful but I must admit, I do love #1 the most.

                                          ©Larry Peterson 2018