Monthly Archives: March 2015

Holy Week Preparations

Holy Week

Pastoral Note: This post was originally given on April 12, 2014.  I share it once again in the hope that all of us will enter more fully into the gift of this sacred time.  Fr. Andrew

Study:  Recall a time in your life when you experienced death and new life.  Where did you find the strength?  Who helped you through this time?

Pray:  Spend some time reflecting on the death and resurrection of Jesus this week.  Read Mark 14-16; Matthew 26-28; Luke 22-24; and John 18-21.  Take in as many prayer opportunities as possible in your parish.

Serve:  Who in your life is dealing with life and death issues right now?  How might you be present to them to offer help, comfort, or strength?


We enter into the heart of the Christian mystery: Holy Week offers us a time to pause, reflect, and pray as the Church ponders on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This mystery, often called the Paschal Mystery, recalls us to the saving work of the Lord.  His death frees of from the burdens of sin and death, and his resurrection opens for us the path to eternal life.  This mystery is profoundly experienced over the Triduum – the 3 Great Days:

  • Holy Thursday – the Mass of the Lord’s Supper
  • Good Friday – the Passion of the Christ
  • Easter (Vigil/Day) – the Resurrection of the Lord

On Holy Thursday we find ourselves in Jerusalem, eating with the disciples at the Lord’s Supper and feeling awkward as he washes their feet – wondering how we would react if he did that for us.  We might identify with Peter or Judas – especially when we consider the times we have willingly betrayed or turned our back on the Lord.

On Good Friday we experience the physical pain, emotional abandonment, and personal humiliation on the path to Calvary (also called Golgotha or Skull Place) and look on with horror at the cruel death of Jesus.  We might also consider the times we have helped others – as Simon did when he was forced to carry the Cross of Christ.    And then we stand in profound sorrow with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, helpless as the innocent suffer injustice.

On Easter we wait in vigil and rise early in the morning with Mary Magdalen, only to find to our wonder and joy that the tomb is empty:  Christ is alive!  Our world, like that of the apostles, is changed forever as we experience new hope and life.

A word to the wise – we get out of Holy Week what we put into it.  Here are some simple ways for an incredible experience.

  • Make church services a top priority – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter (Vigil or Day).
  • Take time to read and reflect on the scriptures (see at the top under “Pray”).
  • Make Holy Thursday an opportunity to offer a special act of service or kindness to another.
  • Make Good Friday fasting extra special with a gift to a particular charity that helps the poor.
  • Make Easter a time of gratitude – take a quiet moment to count our blessings and thank the Lord.
  • Find some time throughout this week to tell the people in our lives how much we love them.

May this be a time for all of us to grow closer to the Lord and one another.

Palm Sunday – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast – Palm Sunday

Christ comes to Jerusalem – knowing that he will suffer and die – that through his Cross and Resurrection we might be saved from sin and death.  Like a firefighter, he approaches the fire to rescue us.  He invites us to take his hand, that he might lead us into a freedom of faith and eternal life.

Our invitation is to let go of the sins and hurts that have bound us; to unclench our hands from past injuries and allow his saving grace to set us free.

This homily was given on March 29, 2015 at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI.

Catholic Inspiration – Walking with the Lord in Holy Week – All Talks

Three Great Things

Below are all the recorded homilies and presentations offered at the Parish Mission for Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Green Valley, AZ from March 7-12, 2015.  Special thanks to the wonderful people at OLV for their hospitality – what a joy to be among you!

Sunday Homily Podcast – 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year B) – Saturday, March 7, 2015.

Monday Homily Podcast – Monday of the 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year I) – March 9, 2015.

Holy Week Presentation Podcast #1 – Palm Sunday – March 9, 2015.

Tuesday Homily Podcast – Tuesday of the 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year I) – March 10, 2015.

Holy Week Presentation Podcast #2 – Holy Thursday – March 10, 2015.

Holy Week Presentation Podcast #3 – Good Friday – March 11, 2015.

Thursday Homily Podcast – Thursday of the 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year I) – March 12, 2015.

Holy Week Presentation Podcast #4 – Easter – March 12, 2015.

In addition, I wish to thank the parishioners at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Solon Springs, WI who welcomed me to preach a concentrated version of this Mission on Saturday, February 28, 2015 – thank you for your kindness…these presentations grew out of our day together!

Walking with the Lord in Holy Week – Easter – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

This is the 4th of four presentations given at a Parish Mission on March 9-12, 2015 for Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Green Valley, Arizona.

Fr. Andrew’s Presentation Podcast #4 – Easter (33 minutes)

The power of the Resurrection and subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit transforms the disciples – they have encountered the Risen Lord and no longer fear sin and death.  Rather, they engage the world with Good News and share the gift of their lives with power and joy.  This transformation must always be understood through the double lens of the Cross/Resurrection; only with a clear understanding of the sacrifice of Christ can we begin to truly appreciate the gift of Eternal Life.  Two key concepts surface:

  • Strength
  • Sunrise…of Hope!

Our STRENGTH comes from the Lord.  Through our daily encounter with Christ through prayer and sacrament we our empowered to choose our attitude and seek opportunities to live our faith in the unique and precious moments of each day.

Furthermore, the Good News of Christ leads to a SUNRISE of HOPE.  We recognize that our personal witness is most authentic when our lives exude the hope and joy that come from Christ’s resurrection.  Guided by the Fruits of the Spirit, we can honestly look within our hearts and cast out anything that keeps us from God and one another.

Walking with the Lord in Holy Week – Good Friday – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

This is the 3rd of four presentations given at a Parish Mission on March 9-12, 2015 for Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Green Valley, Arizona.

Fr. Andrew’s Presentation Podcast #3 – Good Friday (33 minutes)

Carrying his Cross for the salvation of the world, the Lord reveals two key insights for Christians:

  • Sacrifice
  • Support

SACRIFICE – giving up something for the sake of something more important – becomes self evident as the Lord offers his life as a perfect offering.  Innocent and without sin, he takes our place and helps us to recognize our own sacrifices as a participation in his Cross.

SUPPORT appears when we look at two familiar figures in the Stations of the Cross – Simon of Cyrene and Veronica.  We read about Simon in the Scriptures, and Veronica has been a part of the tradition of this devotional prayer for centuries; both of them show that even the smallest of actions proclaims the value of human life in our relationships with one another.  Running toward suffering and sacrifice, we can (like a Firefighter) be agents in great and small ways for compassion, mercy, and tenderness.

Walking with the Lord in Holy Week – Holy Thursday – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

This is the 2nd of four presentations given at a Parish Mission on March 9-12, 2015 for Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Green Valley, Arizona.

Fr. Andrew’s Presentation Podcast #2 – Holy Thursday (33 minutes)

At the Last Supper on the night before he died, the Lord Jesus imparted two key commands that he gave to his disciples:

  • Service
  • Sacrament

In SERVICE the Lord taught with through his example of washing the disciples’ feet.  Found in John 13:1-15, Christ shows his disciples in a clear and direct way that following Jesus demands a call to serve one another.  Service is the path that invites us to give our lives, sharing the unique skills, resources, experiences, and talents we have for the good of others.

In SACRAMENT the Lord defined the bread and wine as his body and blood.  In addition to the Institution of the Eucharist found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke – St. Paul writes of this in 1st Corinthians 11:23-26.  Jesus teaches his disciples about his Body & Blood, and then commands his followers to eat and drink.  The Sacrament of the Eucharist is a crucial way in which we receive the Lord into our lives – providing us with the strength and grace we need to serve as his disciples.

Walking with the Lord in Holy Week – Palm Sunday – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

This is the 1st of four presentations given at a Parish Mission on March 9-12, 2015 for Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Green Valley, Arizona.

Fr. Andrew’s Presentation Podcast #1 – Palm Sunday (32 minutes)

This presentation sets the stage of Holy Week by discussing several key points:

  • Passover – the feast celebrating the deliverance of the people of Israel from their bondage in Egypt
  • Sabbath – the “7th Day” of the week (Saturday) which is dedicated to the Lord, beginning on sundown on Friday and running through sundown on Saturday
  • Temple – the great structure, a holy place sacred to the Jews but also a lightning rod for political unrest against foreign rule
  • Roman Empire – controlling the unstable region for its strategic position in commerce and military rule, constantly on the watch for rebellion and instability
  • Jesus of Nazareth – the great teacher, healer, and prophet – the Son of God who initiates the encounter, knows what will happen, and embraces his mission (like a firefighter who runs toward the danger, not away)

Palm Sunday – The Cross of Christ

Cross of Christ

Study: What sacrifices do I currently face in my life?  Do I recognize the presence of Christ as I carry my Cross?

Pray:  Reflect on the Passion of the Lord.  Recall the sacrifice of Jesus and take a moment to express gratitude for his love.

Serve:  How might you help others face their sacrifices? Are there people you can comfort or assist as they carry their crosses?

Palm Sunday Readings (with Year B reading for the Procession with Palms)

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

On the road to Jerusalem the Lord was dropping hints to his disciples:

“See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”  Matthew 20:18-19

He knew it was coming…and he went through with it.

For us.

And just so we’re clear: not because we’ve been good and deserve it.  Because we’ve sinned and cannot continue without his saving grace.  The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross reveals God’s love for humanity: the fundamental value which the Lord places on ALL human life and demonstrates how love is the greatest of all commandments – for sacrifices reveal quickly and bluntly what we value, respect, cherish, and love.

And Christ sacrificed his pure and sinless life…for our sins.  The more we reflect on the Passion of the Lord, the more we understand the depth of God’s love that knows no limit or boundary – a priceless gift that flows from the heart of Heaven.

Which means that as his disciples the example of Christ becomes our model.  Where do we see our sacrifices today?  How do we – through a sincere and genuine desire to love others – participate in the great sacrifice of Jesus?  What are the Crosses in our lives, and how might we carry them with the help of one who understands the weight of the Cross?

His Cross becomes a gateway that leads to abundant life; may the crosses we carry today be received as our path that the Lord sets before us:

  • To grow in Grace
  • To face our Fears
  • To live in Love

Have a blessed Holy Week.

Catholic Inspiration – 5th Sunday of Lent (Year A) – Fully Alive!

Three Great Things

Study:  How am I taking care of my health – Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul?  How am I using the precious gift of my life?

Pray: Call upon the Holy Spirit for the wisdom to live the special and unique gifts I have been given.

Serve: How can I help others live the gift of their lives today?

Fr. Andrew’s 5th Sunday of Lent (Year A) Podcast

Note: This homily was given at Cathedral of Christ the King on March 22, 2015

Catholic Inspiration – Youth Rally

Three Great Things

The Cathedral hosted the Youth Rally on March 18, 2015.  This homily was given to the 400+  youth who came together for adoration, a keynote talk from Joel Stepanek, and Mass.

Fr. Andrew’s Youth Rally Homily Podcast

Keep praying for our youth that the Lord will touch and bless their lives with grace, wisdom, and strength!


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