Sermon Notes – May 8, 2022 – “Felon Approved”

Sermon Notes

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

“ Felon Approved “

May 7 – 8, 2022

Gospel: John 10: 27-30

I can say this for the first time in two years:  This sermon is felon approved.  I took it on the road the other day to the local prison – what I call Felon University or FU.   You will be happy to hear that the usual crowd is still there.   We also had a couple of new people.  It was a little confusing at first because they only let inmates who are Catholic in for the Mass.  Technically, they can’t do that but with COVID they’ve gone a bit crazy.  Now, everybody likes to go to church because it is air conditioned there.  The living and sleeping quarters in prison are not.  Hey – nobody asked you to commit a felony in North Carolina.   You don’t like it?  Don’t commit a felony.  So, this one guy came in and the guard looked in the records and saw that his religion is Christian.  The inmate said, “No, I’m Catholic.”  The guard said, “It says right here that you are Christian.”  The inmate said, “I was born a Catholic and for over 20 years at Central Prison I was a Catholic.”  Sweet!  Aren’t we lucky to have you!  Some of the others were newcomers, so I told them a little bit about myself.  I told them I had worked with paratroopers and special operations and that if they had a sin I hadn’t heard before, I’d pay them for the privilege to hear it.  “Oh, you don’t understand, Father.”  Yeah, I do.  Been there and done that.  Got a t-shirt. 

One thing I learned as a young soldier and abided by my whole career is that when you are out and about, when you are going from here to there, doing the sneak and peek, you always watch the guy ahead of you.  War movies portray soldiers wandering all over the place and not paying attention.  That’s just not true.  We made sure that we walked in the same footsteps as the guy ahead of us.  We walked in their exact same steps or something very unpleasant might happen . . . something similar to the old Army song, “You’re Coming Home in a Body Bag.”  So, you made sure to walk in their footsteps because it was safe. 

In the Gospel, our Lord said, “Follow Me.”  Follow Him in His footsteps.  If we do what He did, we will get exactly what He got.   During the heights of our self-esteem, we think that we are the only ones who have or ever will have our problems.  And that’s not true.  Look at the writings of the saints.  We are not unique.  Billions of people have done this before with God’s help.   There is help with all our crosses and temptations.   The Church has given us her teachings to help us stay the course.  We also have 2,000 years of the saints’ histories who bore the same crosses that we do and even greater ones. They walked in the same steps as Christ.  When they didn’t, bad things happened to them because they thought they knew better.  When they tidied up and got back to walking in the same steps as Christ, they were safe.  Nobody is safe outside of God’s direction.  He gave us the means and compass directions for exactly where we are going and where satan can’t touch us.  So, if we go to Hell, we are self-made men and women.  Satan sits on the sidelines saying, “Hey, you’re missing a lot of fun out here. . .the water is fine!”  Ah, no.  “I don’t know why you’re putting up with all that stuff; everybody goes to Heaven.”   Yes. . . some go for a cup of coffee and others get to stay for eternity.  Because of our fallen nature, sometimes more often than we’d like to say, we toy with the illusion of how much fun we might be missing.  You aren’t.  The real fun is inside. 

Satan tempts us with false happiness.  Then the Four Horsemen come carrying with them the guilt, fear, shame, and remorse that comes as a result of sin.  Satan is always on the sidelines.  And as soon as you leave our Lord’s marked footprints, guess what happens.  Your soul goes BOOM!  Do what Christ tells you to do.  Stay in His footsteps.  Try not to listen to the distractions.  Don’t look for an easier path.  When you look around you may see some steps that have strayed off the path and a BIG hole.  Whoa, that had to hurt!

One thing I’ve heard about Special Forces is that they have what’s called the “Q” course.  It’s a land navigation course that is really tough.  You have to find a lot of places in the dark and everything else.  You never know when it ends.  You never know when you are finished. . . sometimes not until you turn the corner.  I heard one guy say that a couple of soldiers were just 100 yards away from the endpoint, and they gave up.  They were 100 yards away from finishing the Special Forces Q course, and they gave up.  We never know when the end comes, and we go to heaven.  Keep walking in His steps.  Don’t be distracted from what’s going on around us . . . that’s none of our concern.  Follow Christ where He leads you.  That promise has always worked. 

We have a joy that nobody can take from us.  We are strengthened against temptation by the Sacraments and by the sufferings and praises of the saints in Heaven.  Nobody can snatch this joy from our hands.  The devil can’t.  It’s on us.  Nobody can make us do anything.  I always love it when people say, “I left the Church because of blah blah blah. They made me leave.”  Nobody made you leave.  “There are sinners in the Church.”  Yeah.  I’m one of them.  Church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints.  People make mistakes.  We are all struggling with our crosses.  No one makes you leave the Church.  That’s just an excuse for your own bad behavior.  No one makes you do anything unless they have a gun to your head and even then, it’s a choice.  No one can snatch us out of God’s hands except us and that’s when we become like our first parents . . . we want to be God and will not serve.

How will you apply this message to your life? 

Father’s Afterthoughts . . .
One time when I was overseas and had to go from Point A to Point B, I was walking and paying close attention to the footsteps.  Suddenly, I came to a place where there were no more footsteps.  Houston, we have a problem.  Back up boy.  Back up all the way. . . very slowly.

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to AnnunciationCatholicAlbemarle.com, clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”   Sermon notes can also be found on the Church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”


Sermon Notes – April 24, 2022 – I Love Chocolate Bunny Ears

“I Love Chocolate Bunny Ears“

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

April 23 – 24, 2022

Gospel: Jn 20:19-31


This past week ends the octave of Easter.  People say, “We wish you Easter joy.”  Thank you!  Can you define Easter joy?   Is it the day for biting the ears off Easter bunnies?  You barbarians!   I love chocolate bunny ears.  I’ll be a real man and say it. . . I love chocolate bunny ears!  Anyone who wants to make fun of that, I’m a real man and can take it.  However, I don’t do the hard-boiled egg thing.  Is Easter joy about having lamb with mint jelly?  You know what I had for Easter dinner?  A peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  You know why?  I was out of SpaghettiOs.  Welcome to bachelor living!  

So, what is Easter joy?  Easter joy exists on two levels. . .intellectually and internally.  We can have it on an intellectual level by knowing that our dear Lord suffered and died for our sins and then rose again.  In doing so, He opened the doors of Heaven for us so that we might have eternal life.  We all now have a chance to get to Heaven, and He showed us the way.  He also gave us the means to get there.  What are the means in which we can get to Heaven?  Through the Sacramental Life of the Church.   The source of our internal joy is the gift of the Sacraments and by taking advantage of the gifts He gave us by His sacrifice, death, and resurrection.  From His wounded side, the one that Saint Thomas touched, flows the Blood and Water to the Sacramental Life of the Church. 

The Sacraments are the life of the Church.  Our Lord ordained the apostles on Holy Thursday and later gave them the power to forgive sins.  We still hold to that tradition in the Church.  I’m ordained a priest, and I said my first Mass with my bishop.  After that, in the sacristy, I received a document called “faculties” which gives me permission to absolve people from their sins.  Only a priest and a bishop can act in the person of Christ.  They celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and therefore, have the power to administer the Sacraments of the Church which are the fruits of our Lord’s Passion and death. . .the Holy Sacrifice.    Only a priest or bishop can do that.  Remember what is said during the Mass?  “This is My body.  This is My blood.”  I don’t say “This is Christ’s body. This is Christ’s blood.”   During the Sacrament of Penance, I act in the person of Christ.  I don’t say “Christ absolves you.”  I say, “I absolve you” . . .not the “Church absolves you” or “We absolve you” but “I absolve you” while acting in the person of Christ.   The words are very important so that we can have that joy inside of us, and so that we may have the joy of Easter and the fruits of it. 

Through our Good Lord’s Passion, death, and resurrection, we are strengthened so that we can follow Him.  It is through our own Calvary’s and our own resurrections that we can be with Him forever.  Pop quiz:  When do you receive the Holy Spirit?  At Baptism.  “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.”  When is the second time you receive the Holy Spirit?  Penance.  Penance comes before Holy Communion.  One happens before the other.  During Holy Communion, you receive the Savior.  What does He save you from?  Our sins.  If you aren’t sick, there’s no need to see a doctor, and you’re just wasting the doctor’s time. 

In the Sacraments, you see the full Divinity. . .all of It.  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  You may be thinking, “In Confirmation, you also receive the Holy Spirit.”  I like it when I get asked that question.  Yeah, that’s true but we don’t subdivide God with a little slice here and little slice there.  When you receive the Sacraments, you receive all of God, not just parts of Him.   This is how we internalize and experience the joy of Easter, especially the joy of the forgiveness of our sins.  And the joy of receiving our Good Lord like the apostles did from His own hands.  That’s why I am the only one who gives Holy Communion.  I am the priest acting in the person of Christ, so I give you Communion by my own hand.  It’s not that I think that much of myself – I really do – but it is Christ who feeds you.  I am a symbol of Christ, acting in the person of Christ, so it is He who feeds you the Body of Christ.  It is the fruits of our Good Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection. 

That’s how we experience Easter joy.  It’s not from all the beautiful Easter flowers – we got a great deal on them by the way.  It’s not from how beautiful the church looks – and it does.  True Easter joy comes from experiencing God’s love.  Love that was forsaken by sin and rejected by sin.  But that’s not the end of the story.  Most people are happy when they see their loved ones.  In my family, we were happy when they left . . .but, that’s just us.  Aren’t you happy when you have your loved ones with you after being separated from them before their visit?  So too is our Lord.   We have Easter joy by God coming down and infusing His very self into our souls for our salvation.  That is true Easter joy. 

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.”   Sermon notes can also be found on the Church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”


Sermon Notes – March 27, 2022 – “The Oreo Confession”

“The Oreo Confession”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 March 26 – 27, 2022

Gospel:  Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

I’ve been here a long time and have had the opportunity to become ill several times.  When that has happened, I’ve gone to see either Phyllis or Cindy.  Last time, I had Lori drive me up to the VA hospital.   She wouldn’t give me a gun and a cigarette so I could cure myself.  Oh no!  Let’s make you enjoy COVID to the fullest!  You know what they told me at the VA?  They told me I was sick.  Gosh, those people are really good!  When you go there, they will ask, “What’s wrong?”  My brother was captain of the rescue squad, and he brought somebody into the emergency room over at King County Hospital.  Now, my brother was dressed in his fire and rescue uniform, and the nurse asked, “What’s the matter with him?”  My brother goes, “He’s sick.  What do I look like to you?”   Healthcare providers need to ask what your symptoms are.  Unfortunately, there is not yet a universal pill that you can take, and everything will be cured.  Take two aspirin and have a good life.  No, the medicine you are given depends on your symptoms. 

The parable of the prodigal son and his older brother is demonstrated every day of the week in the Church.  Both brothers needed God’s forgiveness but for different reasons.  Even though Jews don’t touch pigs, the prodigal son fed them which was very sinful.  Leaving his father went against the Fourth Commandment which, in the Old Testament, carried the penalty of death.  But his father welcomed him back.  Somebody told me once that the older son got a raw deal.  Well, the older son had some grave problems too.  He was ungrateful.  “I’ve slaved for you, Dad, all these years!”  So let me see…he called to one of his servants.  Really?  You were really slaving away, kid, if you had servants!   “You never gave me a goat to celebrate with my friends.”  Did he ever ask?  Dads are not psychic, believe it or not.  He never asked.  He was not grateful, and he didn’t care about his brother…he was just jealous.  Then, he cast aspersions on his brother.  “He spent money on loose women!”  Excuse me…how do you know?   First of all, it is scandalous to repeat such a statement.  Second of all, if he did, you have no idea what those women’s situations were.  It was a rash judgement.  It was ingratitude and self-righteousness. 

This is where priests function as the Divine Physician.  We apply the mercy of God’s love to souls.  When healthcare providers figure out what’s physically wrong with us and offer the appropriate remedy, they are offering us God’s love because a doctor’s wisdom is a gift from God.  God’s love and healing power is manifested in healthcare professionals.   Likewise, God’s healing love is manifested in priests as the Divine Physician so that when you come in for Confession, I can apply the appropriate remedy.  To have God’s mercy properly applied, you have to tell me what your sins are.  My mother always wanted to have doctors in the family.  Well, she got two.  My brother earned two doctorates, and I am a physician for souls.  I diagnose severe illness, and I treat it.  Rather, I offer treatment, and people take it, or they don’t.  Sometimes I get “Orio confessions.”   “Father, I was mean to my dog, I killed two people, and I…”   Whoa!  You’re trying to slip one in there hoping Father didn’t hear it.  I ain’t deaf!  I hear everything in there.  “Bless me Father for I have sinned.  I have told some white lies.”   Lies are not color coded.  It’s either a lie or it’s not.  Just putting that out there.  Sometimes, I have to ask questions – not that I’m nosey – but I have to find out the gravity of the sin.  People have different crosses at different times in their lives.  I have to assess the sin and offer the proper remedies to heal your soul.  Like the two brothers, both were in need of God’s forgiveness but for different reasons. 

We always get jailhouse lawyers.  They stayed at a Holiday Inn last night, now they know everything.  They’ll say, “Father, I was taught in Catechism that a mortal sin must have three conditions:  grave offense, sufficient knowledge and reflection, and full consent.  So, that’s not a mortal sin.”  Well, you may be brighter than me, and you probably are.  There is no Mensa card in my pocket.  My brother had one, I don’t.  He had to pay $400 to get it, so how bright was he? For those who truly love God, do you know the difference between a mortal and a venial sin?  It’s the same difference as punching y ,m.our wife or slapping her.  That’s the difference. 

People try to see God in elaborate things.  I have been blessed to be in this beautiful church for a long time.  I look at the beautiful vestments, the beautiful adornments on the altar, and the beautiful music from Frankie and the choir.   For most of my priesthood, I have not been favored with all that.  I’m used to a bit more rustic environment when I offered Mass.  I didn’t have an organist or a choir, but God was present.  Surroundings mean nothing.  My spiritual advisor told me once that the greatest experience you will ever have with God is the experience of His forgiveness.  In the Sacrament of Penance, God forgives and forgets all our sins.

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.”   Sermon notes can also be found on the church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”




Sermon Notes – March 20, 2022 – “Are We There Yet?”

 “Are We There Yet?”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 March 19 – 20, 2022

Gospel: Luke 13:1-9

If a tree does not bear fruit, it shall be cut down.  Our Lord wants to see fruitfulness. What sort of fruit is He looking for?  Our love.   He comes and gives us His love and the fruits of His love.  When we love Him in return and keep His Commandments, that is love in action.  His Commandments are not an obligation.  They are works of love.  He said, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments.”  He tells us how to love.  But He tells us that our time to love and seeing love in return is not infinite.  Our Lord tells us in the Gospel that He is coming back for us.  In case you haven’t heard, we are all going to die.  So, is that good news or bad news?  It’s good news.   Those who love Him will find fulfillment in Him.  We will possess and be possessed by the One we have longed for. . .the One we have struggled to grow in love with while carrying our daily crosses.  We will reach complete fulfillment in the Beloved. 

Where we reside in the next life is solely up to us.  Everyone in hell is a self-made man.  It is our choice.  He is coming for us soon.  “Oh, He is trying to threaten us!”  No, it’s a promise. We look forward to His coming like kids at Christmas.  “How many days until Christmas?”  And at Thanksgiving . . . “When is dinner?”   We can smell all the good food.  I smell SpaghettiOs while others may smell turkey.  Each to his own.   I look forward to Theresa Cutrone coming by with some Uber-eats and with pies being dropped off.  Oh yeah.   I’m also that way with the collection.  But anyway.  We all look forward to certain things.   

When you are in love, you cannot wait to be reunited with your loved one.  When I was sending my soldiers home, the hardest part for them was sitting around and waiting for 10 days for the aircraft to take off.  I could keep them occupied with my jokes for just so long.   They got really antsy.  “I’ve got to get home.”  Don’t worry.  We haven’t failed you yet.  We’ll get you home.  “Is the flight coming early?”  Can you name one thing in the military that came early?  No.  They couldn’t wait to get home and to be reunited with their loved ones.  Their love would be complete inasmuch as it could be. 

The same goes for our Lord.   We look forward to being united with Him.  Not perfectly because we all have sins.  We have grievous sins and sins committed since our baptism.  You heard in the Collect, the first prayer of the Mass, about fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.   By the way, almsgiving covers a multitude of sins.  It says so in scripture in the black part.  When we have that little Tete-À-Tete with our good Lord, with that face-to-face, He will go over our personnel file.   If He says, “Hmm, you didn’t love Me did you?” you will be separated from Him.  But you have time.  The Lord is giving us time.  More time to turn and embrace love. 

God wants everyone to come and be with Him.  Why did He make us?  Because He loves us.  That’s the first question in the Catechism.  The second part of that answer is that He made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to reign with Him in the next.   When someone chooses not to love Him in return, His divine heart is broken.  Just as if it were pierced by a lance, it is pierced by the unrequited love of our Lord.  But there is still time.

Father’s Afterthoughts: 

I have some encouraging news to share.  At the VA on Thursday, I was asked to stop and see a patient who is a new admission to Hospice.  So, I went down there and talked to the young lady.  She’s 62, has COPD, lung cancer next to the bone which has caused several fractures, and gangrene on her big toe.  So, I was sitting there talking with her, and I could see that she was in some distress.   I told her that she looked like she was in pain.  “Oh, no, no.  I’m fine.”  I love it when they lie to me!  I talked to the staff about her, and she won’t be with us for very long.   So, I asked the men and women who came to daily Mass to pray for her.  I went in on Friday and saw her.  She was having a ham sandwich for lunch.  She finished all her soup.  She had French fries and apples or whatever they were.  She said, “Oh, this is really good!”  She was really upbeat and not in pain.   I could tell she was better because her foot was covered whereas before they couldn’t cover it because of the pain.  That is the power of prayer.  You never know if it works., but this time I found out.  To all of those who prayed for her, I want to thank you.  So, keep up your prayers! 

How will you apply this message to your life? 

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to http://AnnunciationCatholicAlbemarle.com/ and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”   Sermon notes can also be found on the church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle” 


Sermon Notes – March 13, 2022 –  “The Temptations”

 “The Temptations”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 March 12 – 13, 2022

Gospel: Luke 9:28-36

Pop quiz:  Do you know what hypostatic union is?  I didn’t think so.  Hypostatic union is the union of the two natures in Christ.  Christ is one “Who” or one person and two “What’s.”  We, however, have just one “what.”  Our nature is human, and it’s the only one we have.  Christ has two natures – one that is human and one that is divine.  The human nature He took from the Blessed Mother was assumed and lost in His divine nature.  That’s why in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, when I’m preparing the gift, you see me pour wine into the chalice and then one drop of water.   That blood and water is a symbol of His human nature being assumed and lost into the divine nature of Christ.  If that drop of water is not in there, it is not the proper matter, and the chalice cannot be transubstantiated, i.e., it cannot change into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  For the Sacrament to be valid, there must be proper matter and form.  The proper matter consists of the wine and the drop of water.  The proper form is to say the words that Christ said.  If one of those two things is missing, the Sacrament is invalid. 

Sometimes people complain that they no longer get the wine.  Well, you never got the wine.  When it was possible, and only in this country did it happen and probably won’t happen ever again, you were offered the Most Precious Blood of Christ.  You were not offered the consecrated wine.   You were offered the wine with water that had been transubstantiated or changed into the Most Precious Blood of our Savior.  Anything else would be blasphemous.  Priests were trained, unless they were sick during that time, to say the correct words.  People have an appreciation for that because anything else would be blasphemous.  Blasphemy is holding something sacred up for mockery or ridicule.  During the transfiguration, our Good Lord exposed and made present to the three apostles His true nature in Christ.  He lowered the veil of His humanity so that they could see some of His divinity.  They could see on Earth what will happen in Heaven, and so can we.  If you have any doubts about getting to Heaven, come see me and I’ll help you out.  It’s my job.   

Moses and Elijah were talking to God face-to-face as one man talks to another.  There was no knowledge gap because, like God’s presence, Heaven is the eternal now.  God has no time.  They talked about the events about to happen in 10 days.  So, how did Peter, James, and John know who Moses and Elijah were?   Of course, Christ may have called them by name.  But they were also enlightened and could see.  It was a gift.  One of the great miracles was the manifestation God when the apostles heard His voice, “This is my Son, the Chosen One.”  It was no coincidence that this miracle occurred 10 days before the Passion.  It was to prepare them for the scandal of the Passion.  Our good Lord comes and gives us consolations although not as often as we would like them.   He comforts us when we need it . . . sometimes before a great tribulation and sometimes afterward.    I don’t get consolations as often as I would like.  Maybe you do, but I don’t.  I’m a real whiner in prayer.  I don’t normally admit that in public, however I just did. 

What happens after He gives us His consolation?  The great temptation of the devil: “You are not doing something right, so God is allowing this to happen.”  “He is punishing you.”  “He withdrew Himself from you; therefore, you are bad.”  And none of that is true.   It’s the great lie of the devil.  “If you prayed right, God would be with you all the time.”  No.  If you thought God was elevating you all the time, you’d be in a mental hospital.  It’s not true.  We do not constantly live in God’s consolation like what Peter, James, and John experienced.   But we do have the consolation that He is always present to us.  So, God will come to us every now and then, not as often as we want, but more often than we think.  He comes to us to show His love.  He loves us not because we’ve said the right word or combination of words in prayer.   No.  God comes and consoles us because He loves us.  God comes to even the most hardened sinner.  Why?  Because He loves them too.  His Son died on the cross for them too.  God wants them to turn around and embrace Him.  He did not make them to be condemned to hell.  He made them, and all of us, so that we could know Him and love Him. 

If you want more heavenly consolations, the tangible and non-blasphemous ones, pray for them.  It couldn’t hurt.  You can pray for anything you want; just don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it.  But keep praying.  I’m still not a Monsignor after 38 years in the priesthood, and I haven’t given up.  I’ll be writing my Christmas card to the bishop on the back of a $100 bill.  It’s the Rhode Island way.

Keep praying but be careful about the temptations of satan.  Pray even if you don’t feel it.  Feelings are so fickle and are not a basis of spiritual life.  People say, “I don’t feel consoled” and “I don’t feel this or that.”   I don’t care what you feel.  Feelings are not reality.  Reality is that God is always with us.  Where else is God supposed to be other than with us?   “I feel alone.”  That’s a temptation.  Where is your guardian angel?  Your guardian angel is always with you.  The Church is always praying for you.  So, you are not alone.  You are not unprayed for, and you are not unloved.  That is another great temptation and an easy one for us to fall into because like Peter, James, and John, we want our heaven here on Earth. 

Do not be discouraged if you don’t receive the consolations that you think you should have.  It doesn’t mean you are bad.  It doesn’t mean you are praying wrong.  It doesn’t mean you have to give more to the church although that would be a good thing. . . you should do it anyway.  Just saying!   Right after Communion is the best time to receive certain gifts.  We need and appreciate them.  Remember when your parents let you walk to school all by yourself?  You didn’t know that half the neighborhood was watching as you walked to school.  You didn’t see the trooper behind the tree watching all the kids as they walked to school.  You thought you were so grown up, right?  No!  The neighbors and the state troopers made sure you were safe and got to school okay.  So do not be discouraged with your passions.  Do not be discouraged with your ordinary walk in life or think that God is not with you.  Because that is a lie.

How will you apply this message to your life? 

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to http://AnnunciationCatholicAlbemarle.com/ and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”   Sermon notes can also be found on the church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle” 


Sermon Notes – March 6, 2022 – Where is the Love?

 “Where is the Love?”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 March 5-6, 2022

Gospel: Luke 4:1-13

One of the great temptations that snares a lot of people because it sounds really good, besides bacon, is to do things for other people out of compassion.  There is a lot of false compassion out there.  “If you love me, you will do this for me.”  “Oh, doctor, I hurt really bad.  May I have some OxyContin?”  That’s false compassion.  Saint Luke recounts our Lord’s first three temptations.  There are others, but these are the first three.  With the first temptation of Christ, which happens to us in one form or another, the devil used false compassion.  “People are bad because they lack stuff.  They lack food.  They lack education.  They lack computers.  They don’t have Facebook.  They are poor, and they need stuff.  If they had stuff, they wouldn’t be bad.”  None of that is true.  How many rich people have had abortions?  In my own life, my mother’s family was very poor, and none of them went to prison.  I take that back – my uncle went to prison, but he worked there.  He was a Correctional Officer.  The State of Massachusetts had him on work release for thirty years and finally told him he was too old and gave him his pension.  He was from the Joe Cutrone School of Correctional Officers.  He was a nice guy, and the murderers liked him.  Give them some cigarettes, and they were happy.  My cousin Philip was murdered, and they sent his murderer to the prison my uncle retired from.  The inmate state employees there knew who he was.  “We’ll take care of it as a favor.”  They were going to take care of some business for him.  My uncle told them, “No, no.  Don’t do that.”  That’s false compassion.  Now, I go out to our local FU (Felon University), and there are doctors there, people with medical degrees, and lawyers.  There are people there with advanced degrees and people with no degrees.  There are rich people and poor people.  People choose evil.  If they don’t have a choice, they are put into a state hospital.  They choose evil because they choose satan over Christ.  It’s not a lack of anything.  It’s a choice.  Fat people go to prison.  And believe it or not, inmates get fat in prison. So, it’s not a lack of anything.  People are using false compassion when they say, “Let’s give all this charity to poor people, and they won’t be bad.”   We have spent nine trillion dollars on various charities, but we don’t tell them about Jesus.  Instead, we tell them how to work on a computer.  I don’t have much computer knowledge, so I’m lucky that I know people.  

The next temptation was all about power.  Do you know who the most powerful person in the Church was?   Saint Theresa of Calcutta.  She wasn’t zealous for power, nor did she flaunt it.  But look at the power of this little nun.  She weighed about 120 pounds soaking wet with lead weights in her pocket.  Which of our cardinals ever went up to the sitting president and vice president wagging their finger about abortion? Which one?   Which one could have an audience with the Pope anytime she wanted?   Which one spoke at the United Nations?  Which one taught us how to love by living that love?  Saint Theresa was the most powerful person in the Church.  It’s not about getting into office, being ordained, having big titles after your name, or anything like that.  I have titles after my name and some before my name.   Whoopee!  They mean nothing.  They don’t even get me out of tickets anymore with these atheist cops down here. 

There is power in love.  It’s not political power, and it’s not power in the Church.  “Oh, I have a position in the Church.  I’m so and so!”   Shut-up!   Where is your love? When you are sitting with a sick person about to die, where is your love?  “I’m in charge of programming.”  You come with me, and we’ll see how that love in action does.  I’ll have you throwing up in about an hour.  That’s love in action.  Come and take care of the sick.  Sometimes, they’ll make it just inside the door before they catch a whiff of the smell. Ugh!  What?  Love is action.  It’s not a position.  

We don’t need to change any laws.  We have more laws than we know what to do with.  We can’t even incarcerate people because there’s no room for them.  People want to change the Mass.  They want to change the Sacraments.  If you can do it better than Jesus, let me know.  Now, husbands and wives . . . has your spouse ever told you they love you?  I would hope so.  Does that ever get old?  Does it need to be changed?  Does it need to be updated?  Does it need to be made more relevant?  Do you need a praise band going on there?  Do you want some dancing down the hallway?   We don’t need to change the Mass or the Sacraments.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a divine act of love, and it doesn’t get old.  What gets old is our pride when we think we can make it better.  During the Sacrifice of the Mass, what is Jesus saying?  He is saying, “I love you. This is how much I love you.”  That never gets old.  It only gets old if you don’t have room in your heart to say to Jesus, “I love you too.”

How will you apply this message to your life? 


You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to  http://AnnunciationCatholicAlbemarle.com/ and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”   Sermon notes can also be found on the church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”


Sermon Notes – February 27, 2022 – “Unchain Your Heart”

 “Unchain Your Heart”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 February 26-27, 2022

Gospel:  Luke 6:39-45

This week, we have Ash Wednesday for which we have rules of fasting and abstinence.  You can look them up online for a reminder.  People call this the Penitential Season.  “Ugh!  I have to give up something.  It’s 40 days of punishment!”  It’s more than 40 days because we don’t count Sundays, and it ends on Holy Thursday.  That is 40-50 days of no cake, no coffee, no pie, no soda, and no booze.  Be happy about it.  I prefer to think of it not as a Penitential Season in the sense that it’s about deprivation, but as an exercise of spiritual freedom.  We free ourselves from bondage to things so that we may be able to love.  We are trapped in pleasures not worthy of us.  Chocolate cake will satisfy us for just so long.   Believe it or not, I have not had a piece of bacon in two years.  Medical quacks!  Anyway.  We are enslaved to things rather than free to love.  When you break those chains, you achieve freedom.  If you are not chained to Facebook, games, or whatever else you have, you are free to love and free to experience God’s love.   Satan stirs up all these things in our heart.   But Jesus said, “My ways are easy.”  His ways are not difficult…He said that.  Denying our fantasies is not difficult.  If we say that they are, we are accusing Jesus of lying.  We make it difficult by listening to Satan and instead, we wind up pole vaulting over mouse droppings where everything is so hard and so dramatic.  Hey!  Come down off the cross, we need the wood! 

I’ll tell you this story.  I was at a Christmas dinner years ago with the bishops and the abbot, a priest, was there.  He was telling us about how he offered Mass to the people in Venice, and it was so cold, he could see his breath.  I said, “Well, Father, I offered Mass in Iraq in 136 degree weather and during a sand storm.  But to me, that was just another day at the office.  Would I do it again?  Yes, because I love my soldiers.  Was it pleasant?  Not really, but it was a work of love free from attachment.  You will find that you have greater happiness.  You will find a greater love to allow more love into your soul rather than a love of things.  Rather than having things taking up space in our souls, God is there.  He is the one for whom our souls were made.  As Saint Augustine said, “Our heart is restless until it rests in You.”  Our souls were made for God alone.  Everything else does not satisfy.  People are so unhappy because they keep trying to fill that void with people, places, and things that are not God.  

During this season and our works of love, I urge you to come to Confession, and make it a frequent habit.  I urge you to offer more prayer.  And don’t say, “Oh, I’m going to say two Rosaries every day.”  Just try a decade at a time, okay?  Start out small with baby steps.  You aren’t monks.  You aren’t cloistered.  You aren’t consecrated and can sit there for an hour.   In seminary, we sat there for hours praying for vocations in the world.  Just pray.  Hey, that computer has an off switch.  It won’t hurt you a bit.  Honest.  I promise it won’t hurt you a bit.  Those people on Facebook will not miss you.  TikTok videos will go on without you.   Someday, we will get our celestial discharge, and they will still go on without us. 

This season is a time for us to grow.  It is not a time for brutality or self-flagellation.  It’s a time for freedom to free ourselves from bondage to things; to improve our vision so that we can see what is really important to us; and to grow in the joy of our spiritual lives.  This is not transitory joy that’s good for only a few seconds, then gone, and we are left to deal with the consequences.  Rather, this is a joy that nobody can take from us.  This is what we do.  Seek His love.  Don’t ask anyone, “What are you giving up for Lent?”  First of all, it’s none of your business.   And yes, it is my business as your priest. 

People ask, “What are you going to do for this Lent?”  Well, I’m going to try to be holier.  I’m going to try to free myself of the bondage to things.  We all have our fun and things that we like to do.  They are innocent in and of themselves.  They are not sinful.  But, putting them down and turning to prayer might be a much better alternative.

How will you apply this message to your life? 

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to http://AnnunciationCatholicAlbemarle.com/ and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”   Sermon notes can also be found on the church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”


Saint of the Day – February 28 – Pope Saint Hilary

Pope Saint Hilary (5th c.) was Bishop of Rome from 461 to 468. Not much is known of his early life other than that he was from Sardinia. He rose to prominence in the Church when he became archdeacon under Pope St. Leo the Great, working closely with him as a trusted aid. St. Leo sent Hilary as one of the papal legates to the Council of Ephesus in 449. There St. Hilary fought bravely against the monophysite heresy, for which his life was threatened. He was forced into hiding and fled back to Rome for safety. He was so highly esteemed that after Pope Leo’s death he was elected to the papacy. As pope, St. Hilary fought for the rights of the papacy in spiritual matters against the Roman Emperor, and increased organization and discipline between the bishops and the Holy See. He also did much work in building, remodeling, and decorating Roman churches and other public places. Pope St. Hilary’s feast day is February 28.

//Catholic Company//


Sermon Notes – February 20, 2022 – “Without Judgement, There is No Mercy”

“Without Judgement, There is No Mercy”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 February 19 – 20, 2022

Gospel:  Luke 6:27-38

I was tidying up some stuff as I’m prone to do from time to time, and I found some military/Army papers.  Oh, this could be important, but not likely since it’s going on nine years since I retired.   I don’t think they miss me, and I don’t miss them either.  They tried to kill me.  It wasn’t personal…just business.  So, I looked at the document and it was orders for REFRAD or Release From Active Duty.  I read through the document, and it was a stroll down memory lane.  For my education, “high school or the equivalent” was listed.  Well, that’s pretty close.  I told you I was the village idiot, and the military knew.  Except that I could not have been an officer without a college education, and I could not have been a chaplain without a master’s degree.  Welcome to the Army.  Anyway, I thought it was hilarious.  I’m not the brightest bulb in the circuit, but I did study and pass tests because I have initials after my name.  

Some days I went to class, and I remember a discussion about sin.  By the way, the Church is still against sin.  A lot of people use as an excuse for having no morality that we cannot be judgmental.  I have heard people in Confession say, “Bless me Father for I have sinned.”   Okay.  “I have judgmentalism.”   So, I have a degree in Philosophy.  I have a degree in Divinity.  I have a minor in Military Science and one in Western Civilization.  But I have no idea what you are talking about.  I have absolutely no clue.  There is no such thing.  If you look in the two books on Moral Theology, it’s not there.  There is the sin of rash judgement but not judgmentalism.  We are called to judge.  In my house I have to judge a lot.  I open the refrigerator and if I see bushy green stuff, I have to make a judgement.  Is that stuff supposed to be green?  It’s always a question in my mind.  So, we make judgements all the time because we are supposed to.  Physicians and healthcare workers make judgements.  Our Lord said you will know them by their fruits.  You are supposed to judge actions.  Actions are objectively evil or good.  Very few actions by a moral agent are neutral.  We are all moral agents.  So, all of our actions are good or evil.  They can be objectively wrong.  This one bozo passed a State Trooper going 55 mph in a 35 mph zone.  Hey dude, you are about to meet a new friend!  He was wrong, and he was stupid.  But we are not to judge beyond God’s mercy. 

We are all called to make judgements.  Sometimes in my former line of work, before I was here with you folks, I had to make instantaneous judgements.  Otherwise, I would have lost my breathing privileges.  In some fields, it’s the same.  We are called to make judgements.  We cannot judge anyone beyond God’s mercy.  We don’t know the crosses they carry.  We judge and treat them according to their actions.  That’s the moral law. 

I’m trying to get away from here for a little while because my cousin has cancer.  We are hoping for a miracle although it doesn’t look promising.  But, what the heck.  Never asked, never granted.  My cousin is a very gifted woman.  She’s an artist.  She can sing.  She’s a nurse.  She’s a beautiful woman.  All women are beautiful, and my cousin is exceptionally so.  My family has good looks and no money.  Damn.  Her father – my godfather – had his problems.  He was a gambling addict and an alcoholic.  He was a great engineer and absolutely brilliant.   Some of that is genetic.  Although 30+ missions as a waist gunner in a B-17 over Nazi Germany during WW II probably didn’t help much.  My cousin grew up in a home like that.  Her father tried.  I can tell you that he struggled with his crosses because when he was near death, he asked me to hear his confession.  That was faith.  People who judged him would say that he was a worthless drunk and everything else.  No.  God did not forget him, and he did not forget God.  It’s just that his crosses were so heavy that he fell a lot.  Other so-called Christian religions believe they know who is in Heaven and who isn’t.  That’s not true.  We don’t know.  We just work like heck and hope we get there. 

We have to practice judgementalism on ourselves.  We judge ourselves guilty of sin.  Why don’t people go to confession?  Some say, “Well, I don’t really have any sins.”  Then you shouldn’t come to Communion.  Huh?  Communion is not a door prize for just showing up.  Who do you receive in Holy Communion?  You receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Who is Jesus Christ?  He is our Savior.  Okay.  Two for two.  What does He save us from?  Sin.   So, if you have no sin, you do not need Jesus.  Let me know if you do.   We judge ourselves guilty in order to receive Him.  We cannot judge who is in Heaven.  Remember, the good thief stole Heaven at the last minute.   A man who thought he was smarter than the average bear was playing games with Bishop Sheen.  He wanted to know if Jonah was really swallowed by the whale.   Bishop Sheen said “I don’t know.  When I get to Heaven, I’ll ask him.”  The man said, “What if he’s not in Heaven?”  Bishop Sheen said, “Then you ask him.”  Do you know what the three biggest surprises in Heaven will be?  Who is in Heaven.  Who is not in Heaven.   And, that we are there.

How will you apply this message to your life? 

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to http://AnnunciationCatholicAlbemarle.com/ and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”   Sermon notes can also be found on the church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”


Sermon Notes – February 6, 2022 – “You Talking to Me?”

Sermon Notes

 “You Talking to Me?”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 February 5 – 6, 2022

Gospel Luke 5:1-11

You may recognize this passage in the Gospel of Luke as one of the greatest examples of sarcasm in scripture.  “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”   When Christ tells them to cast out into deeper water for a catch, Peter was probably thinking that this is a holy man and we might get some good karma if we do it.  Even so, Peter was dripping with sarcasm when he said, “Yes, Master at Your command” and put out the nets.   But think about it.  Here is a carpenter telling a professional fisherman how to fish.  Really?  Are you kidding me?  That’s like me telling Bob how to fix things.  He doesn’t even let me use power tools.  That would be like me telling Phyllis how to practice medicine. 

You could tell who was a fisherman by their complexions and hands, etc.  Jesus was a carpenter.  He didn’t speak with the same accent because he was from Nazareth.  It’s like being in the South; you know who is a Yankee and who isn’t.  Remember the show “Cheers”?  I could tell what part of Boston they were from just by the accent.  People from different parts of Boston have their own accents.  I know because I lived in Boston.  So, Christ wasn’t from Galilee, and He didn’t look like a fisherman.  His face wasn’t sunburned and He had the hands of a carpenter.  But, Peter being the nice guy that he was said “Alright, I’ll do it Lord.”  I’m sure he wasn’t having happy thoughts about this Jesus character.  But Peter did as the Lord said and put out into deeper water.  After catching so much fish that his boat almost sank, Peter came back and fell at the Lord’s knees and said, ““Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  In Hebrew, the word “Lord” is meant to refer only to the Almighty.  You don’t get that from scripture unless you are taught it.  You read it and move on.  But it is a word used only when referring to God.  We see the amazing change in Peter when he recognized Jesus as Lord.

The takeaway from today’s gospel is that if you do what our Lord asks you to do, you’ll get what He promises far and beyond all our needs, hopes, and expectations.  Even if it may seem stupid to us, look at the benefits it produces.  Peter and the other fisherman had to work for it.  They were hauling in nets full of fish.  That’s not easy…it’s pure bull work.  First, you have to work for it, but you also have to be obedient.  We also have to be obedient and work for His promises of rewards beyond all measure.  Not that we will receive a bunch of fish … I hate fish.   That’s why God made Ketchup and Ranch dressing.  I may not like it, but I have to eat it.  Twice a week, I do great penance by eating fish.   What’s the greatest reward beyond all Earthly expectations?  If we do what our Lord asks us to do, what do we get?  We get Him forever. 

Too often because of our pride and our hubris, we think we’ve had a visit from the good idea fairy.  The good idea fairy says, “Oh, no, no.  We have good ideas. This is great!”   This is not just a modern distraction, it goes back to when Saint Paul went to Athens.  He tried something totally different and he got two converts.  After that, he decided to preach only about Christ crucified.  And then what happened?  He began to evangelize the Gentiles.  He did what His good Lord asked him to do.  And that’s what we should do.  This is how we attract people to Him.  For them to see us get up with our cross to follow Him and do what He asks.  We give to those who we don’t think deserve it.  We give to those people who hate us.  We pray for those who persecute us.  We do what He tells us to do and we get what He promised although maybe not as immediately as the apostles.

I have proven that 90% of being successful is just showing up.  Ask any of my brother priests and they will tell you in all honesty, even the Bishop will in a candid moment, that I’m not the sharpest knife in the priestly drawer.  I’m not that bright.  I’m not that learned.  I’m not that talented.  But I show up.  One day I was in the field and one of the gunship pilots came up to me.  He’s not a Catholic and I really doubt that he’s a church-going guy.  I was going around saying hello to everybody, checking on all my soldiers, and touring my parish when this pilot came up to me and said, “Chaplain, when we go to war, will you come with us?”   I said, “Yes. Where you, go I go.”   All those days in the field in the rain, snow, and cold…gosh, I miss those days!  Someday I knew I was going laugh about all of it but not that day. 

When I was a very young priest, I was Catholic chaplain for Charlotte Memorial, Presbyterian,  and Novant.  Scott Lindsey was the chaplain at Presbyterian and his secretary told him that they had an emergency call needing a priest.  She asked Scott if she should find out the name of the pastor.  Scott said, “No. Call Father Fitzgibbons. He always comes.”   It’s just showing up.  That’s the best tool for evangelization…trying to live a holy life.  Do what Christ asks us to do, and we will get the reward He promises us.  Too often we settle for smaller rewards.  The reward He promises and the one we should all be working for is Himself.  You are because you are here.  This is just a reminder because we are easily distracted – look, squirrel!!.  

Do what He tells you to do.  You are just like the disciples when He sent them out two-by-two to go prepare the wedding room.  They came back and said, “Lord, even the demons suffer for your name.  He said, “Yeah, I told you they would.”

How will you apply this message to your life? 

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to http://AnnunciationCatholicAlbemarle.com/ and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”   Sermon notes can also be found on the church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”