A White Fence Must be Maintained
Father Peter Fitzgibbons
November 20 – 21, 2021
Gospel: John 18:33-37
I think it is time for a Catechetical lesson. From time to time, we need to review best practices because even a white fence must be maintained otherwise it turns black. During the Mass last night, there were two accidents that upset me greatly. Two people dropped the Host. In the United States, there are two ways to receive Holy Communion if you are in a State of Grace. One way is on the hand. If you choose to receive on the hand, one hand is held beneath the other. You take the Host from your free hand and put it into your mouth. Now, it is my right to refuse to give you Communion. I’ve seen all sorts of things… like stamps from the bar where someone was the night before. Yeah, I had a life too before I became a priest. Also, I served with paratroopers at Fort Bragg. But giving you Communion on the hand would be sacrilegious. The normative way of receiving Holy Communion in the Universal Church is on the tongue. You may kneel at the altar rail if you choose, or you may stick out your tongue and say “Amen” after I say, “Body of Christ.” I don’t take your sticking out your tongue at me personally. But please don’t pretend you’re an iguana. I will give it to you. Extend your tongue and leave it there. And don’t lick my hand, okay? I expect that from Tilley and Marley and all the other puppies who love me. I’ve been doing this a very long time – for 38 years – so I’ve got it. I’m a professional. Please don’t try to help me. Also, don’t open your mouth, stick out your tongue, and smile at me. Please remember “Who” you are receiving. Jesus is a “Who.” He is not a “what.” That’s blasphemy. You are receiving God Himself. Oh, and my arm is only so long, so when you come up to receive Communion, don’t stand back at the pew. What am I supposed to do, launch it at you? Get up here! I tested negative twice last Friday, so I’m safe, alright? Just come up and after I say, “Body of Christ” and you say “Amen,” put the Host in your mouth. I must see you put it in your mouth. If you walk away and I don’t see you put it in your mouth, I will hurt your feelings. . . dramatically. In my best military manner, I will hurt your feelings because I have vowed to protect the Blessed Sacrament with my life. So, do not try to walk away without putting it in your mouth. Remember the sacredness of what is happening during the Mass and with Holy Communion.
Today is the Solemnity of Christ the King. We acknowledge Christ as King. What does that mean? We come here and sing songs from the hymnals? No. He’s the king of what? Why is He a king? Who is the king in your heart and soul? It’s the ones you love. They have priority. Everything you do in this life is for the sake of the ones you love. . .your spouse, your children, and your grandchildren. Everything is focused on them within Christ. That’s how you learn to love. Because we love Him, we do the things that help us love Him more. He is the sole source of our life and our joy. You say that Christ is coming back to judge us. Uh-Oh. It’s like a teenage party and Mom is coming. Quick! Time to clean the house. Too late now! By the way, it’s never too late to say “I’m sorry” to God. If we love God, we look forward to that moment.
We were never meant to die. That’s why it takes bodies so long to die. We have a man in Hospice at the VA hospital who has ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He’s a textbook case. The nurses and doctors are amazed at how slowly he is dying, and it’s so painful to watch. Our bodies were never meant to die. That’s why we fear it. But we are all going to see Jesus one way or another. When we go to our Lord, we prove our love by the works of love we’ve done. What are works of love? Saint Augustine said that the work itself is love. We keep His Commandments. “Oh, Father. That’s so old-fashioned and very judgmental.” Well, Jesus is judgmental. Remember, there is a final exam during which He judges us. What are the works of love? Well, what does it say in Scripture? “If you love Me, keep My Commandments.” So, the Commandments are not just punishing acts. “We are over the Commandments. We are full of love and joy!’ No, no, no. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments.” By the way, there are more than ten. If you read the Book, just the black part, don’t read the white, you will be more content. This is how we prove that we love Jesus. He is the source and summit of our love. We try to keep His Commandments. Are we perfect? No. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying. This is how we prove the primary love in our heart and Who we love above all. “We need just laws.” No, we have more laws than we know what to do with. We need just people. We need holy people. We don’t need more laws. We need holier people. Have you noticed that the SWAT team has never raided Belmont Abbey? And I don’t see Mother Angelica’s sisters being raided by the Feds. Just saying. Want to save money on police? Want to take money out of prisons? Become holier. That’s how God will judge us. The throne in our soul was created for our Lord to reside. At the time of our passing, God will look to see if His Son is there. He will look into our souls to see if love and peace reside there.
How will you apply this message to your life?
You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com/, clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.” They can also be found on Facebook by searching for “Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”
You may be afraid of flying, spiders, heights, and snakes, but there is one fear that dominates the human experience. We all have it. It’s our greatest fear. It sabotages relationships. It produces existential loneliness.
“You may be afraid of flying, spiders, heights, and snakes, but there is one fear that dominates the human experience. We all have it. It’s our greatest fear. It sabotages relationships. It produces existential loneliness.
We’re afraid that if people really knew us, they wouldn’t love us. That’s our greatest fear.
The real tragedy is that by pretending to be the person we think other people want us to be, we destroy our chances at really being loved. Because when someone does come along to say, “I love you” there’s a little voice in our head that says, “No you don’t. You love the person you think I am.”
This is how people end up desperately lonely in a relationship.
Hugh Prather observed, “Some people are going to like me and some won’t. So I might as well be myself, and then at least I’ll know that the people who like me, like me.””
“Some thoughts are beautiful, and some thoughts are ugly. Some help you become the best-version-of-yourself and some don’t.
Here are THREE THINGS you should think about MORE:
1. The best things that have ever happened to you.
2. The things in the past you thought you would never get over… and did.
3. The most fulfilling lives are not built on talent, beauty, money, things, or even success. They are built on love, humor, service, friendship, wisdom and chocolate.
Thoughts play a powerful role in our lives. What you choose to think about determines the direction of your life. Don’t like where your life is headed, change what you spend your days thinking about.
Think more beautiful thoughts and you – and your life – will become more beautiful.”
To play, click on link:
An important part of American heritage is the story of the group of British Christians who fled persecution and planted the Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts.
It was a daunting task to settle in such an undeveloped area, and the Pilgrims were ill-equipped. Their first winter in Plymouth, half of them died from disease and inadequate supplies.
Things were so bad that they had to ration their supply of corn to five kernels per person per day.
Several years later when crops were abundant, the Pilgrims started their Thanksgiving celebration by serving each person five kernels of corn as a reminder of what God had brought them through.
They understood what Paul meant when he wrote:
“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” Philippians 4:12-13
Whether they were struggling through lean times or enjoying abundance, they knew they could trust God’s strength to get them through.
Before our Thanksgiving meal, I serve five kernels of corn to remember our pilgrim heritage and God’s faithfulness. Why not make this your tradition too?
Resource: David Manuel and Peter Marshall, The Light and the Glory (Fleming Revell, NJ, 1977).