Sermon Notes – November 21, 2021 – A White Fence Must be Maintained

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”


Sermon Notes – November 7, 2021 – “The Circle of Love Continues”

 “The Cycle of Love Continues”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 November 6 – 7, 2021

Gospel:  Mark 12:38-44

The month of November can be classified as a study in Ecclesiology or Who the Church is.  You can read about bishops referring to the Church as a “what.”  But it’s a “Who.”  “Father, why do you say that?  How can you contradict a bishop?”  I like contradicting bishops. . . it’s a hobby.  When Paul was going around beating people up, Jesus said “Saul, why do you persecute Me?”  He didn’t say, “Why are you persecuting My institution.”  No.  He said, “Why do you persecute Me.”  The Church is a “Who.” It’s the body of Christ.  There are aspects of a “what” but it’s a “Who.”  

What brought the Church in to being?  I’ll give you the answer by asking my second question. What brought you in to being?  It wasn’t a “what” – it was a “Who.”  God’s love.  The first question in the Catechism is “Why did God make you?”  Because He loved you.  You were created out of love.  You have always been in the mind of God for all eternity.  We existed in the mind of God before we existed in the bodies of our mothers.  God created us out of love and sustains us out of love.  He calls us into His presence out of love.  He calls us into His church out of love. This is His gift of love so that we can become one with the Body of Christ. . . His Bride.  So, the Church is not a “what.”  It’s a “Who.”  It is the Bride of Christ. 

Some people try to change the Church.  If it’s an institution you can change it, but if it’s a “Who,” you can’t.  The Church is a “Who.”  That “Who” was formed out of love, sustained and created out of love, and exists only because of love.  It’s a love of all people in the world and not just those here in Albemarle even though we love it here . . . it’s the best parish in the diocese.  Don’t tell them that – they will get really upset.  I almost get into fights with other priests when they tell me how great their parish is.  Really?  The whole Church is united by baptism.  As Bishop Waters said, there are no hyphenated Catholics. We are united in love, and we come to express our love and our prayers for those who have gone before us.  As we pass from this world, those left behind will pray for us, and the cycle of love will continue.  

Our love of others gave us what we have.  We didn’t build or pay for this church.  The Church of the Annunciation in New York gave the money to build it.   So, Yankees built this church.  We are enjoying their gifts of love and the gifts of love by those in this parish who have gone on before us.  The saints who have gone on before us pray for us.  They give us that gift of love.  They intercede for us to the Father so that we can attain what they have.  Love is not fulfilled unless it is complete.  No mother is happy unless she has her family around her.  The saints want their spiritual family, the whole body of the Church, to be with them in Heaven.  They always pray for us.  We as the Church Militant, the Church working for our salvation, pick up our crosses each day and follow the good Lord. We pray for those who can’t. . .those who have gone before us and who are cleaning their baptismal robes so that they may come and dwell in the place of the Perfect. This is mentioned at every Mass.  When we pass away, the Church will pray for us, maybe not by name, but they will always pray for us.  You were given the gift of love not by your prayers but by this prayer.  Because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is what?  You got me on that one.  It’s not a “what.”   It’s a “Who.”   

In some churches, they announce that “the liturgy will be celebrated…”  That’s a Greek word meaning a public act. Big deal.  They think they are really hip.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is Christ offering Himself to the Father. And Christ, in that offering, is made present on the altar.  He asks not for our participation.  This is where the catechetics of the Mass have gotten really weird over the years.  The terms we use when referring to the Mass are often blasphemous.  “We go to church.”  Yeah.  You walk in and walk back out.  Big deal.  “I attend church.” Well, I attend a play.  “I actively participate.”  You know, I have a degree in Philosophy, believe it or not, and I have paperwork to prove it.  But I have no idea what that phrase means.  It was made up in the last forty years, and it means absolutely nothing.  So, when I say Mass in hospitals and nursing homes for people who are barely conscious and heavily medicated, they aren’t actively participating?  During my 13-minute Mass in the field, when the natives were restless, we didn’t sing, but we prayed a lot.  Are you kidding me?  They were trying to kill Blanch and John’s little boy.  You do not actively participate.  You do not go to Mass.  You do not attend Mass.  Take what I’m about to tell you and commit it to memory.  You are called, when you come here, to become part of Christ’s sacrifice. Whether we sing or not and whether we take up a collection or not has nothing to do with it.  You are called to become part of the sacrifice of Christ.  The Romans participated in the crucifixion, but they didn’t actually suffer with Christ, did they?   You take the place of the Blessed Mother whose human nature Christ took and suffered with on the Cross and redeemed us with.  You take the place of Saint John the Apostle, the Beloved, who suffered with Christ out of love.  You take the place of Mary Cleophas.  You are suffering with Christ.  You unite your sufferings and human nature with the suffering of Christ.  In the offertory, the priest, acting in the person of Christ, takes your human natures and makes them one with Christ in that animation of love on the altar that is always present to the Following.  You become part of Christ’s sacrifice.  That is why this place is so special.  Not only is there the Real Presence of our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, but you are also standing at the foot of the Cross.  And very shortly you will become part of Christ’s sacrifice. At Mass, you will receive the grace of offering yourself.  You may offer that grace to one of your departed brethren.  The grace of receiving Holy Communion is another one.  Even if you are not able to receive the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, you can offer that sense of deprivation to someone else. 

This month, we pray for those who have gone before us.  The Church always prays for the departed. . . always.  The Protestants, with their so-called reformation say, “We don’t pray for the dead.”  Yeah, well we do.  It’s a part of the Church.  The Catacombs are filled with inscribed prayers in Latin.   What do they say?  “Pray for me.”  Since the earliest days of the Church, for over 2,000 years, we have prayed for them.  This is what we do.  When our loved ones are all in Heaven, with mine it may take a little work, but when they are all in Heaven, then our prayers go to someone else who needs them.  Remember that old Italian saying: “I remember your name.”  The saints all know who to pray for because when they get to Heaven, they are enlightened by the transfiguration.  They know who helped them, and they will mention you by name to the ear of Christ.

Father’s Afterthoughts:

Veterans Day is this week.  There are a lot of people who served, but just because they served doesn’t make them heroes.  In my day, people served because they didn’t want to go to jail or to go to Canada and learn to speak French.  I wouldn’t want to share a foxhole with them.  They might get me killed.  But there are a lot of unknown heroes.  I hear a lot of stories from veterans at the VA Hospital, and I’m going to tell you about two heroes.  One of the vets asked me if I served in Vietnam, and I told him “No.”   This vet told me that his older brother volunteered for Vietnam so he wouldn’t have to go.  His brother was a hero.  Another veteran, who is 99 years old and in Hospice, has all his faculties. . . he just can’t see very well.  This veteran was in the Armored Division during World War II and had a job nobody wanted. . . Radio Telephone Operator or RTO.   They were the ones the enemy was told to take out first.  Your lifespan as an RTO wasn’t that great.  To make matters worse, you carried a big antenna which let everybody know exactly where you were.  Thank you!  The good side of being the RTO is that he got to ride in a half-track and didn’t have to walk all the way to Berlin.  His unit liberated Dachau; the first concentration camp established in Germany.  Those are the veterans you should pray for and honor.

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”


Sermon Notes – October 31, 2021 – Follow Directions!

 “Follow Directions!”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 October 30 – 31, 2021

Gospel: Mark 12:28-34 

One thing about theology, it is a precise science.  Our Lord was precise.  He gave our first parents instructions in a 12-word declarative sentence:  “You shall not eat from the Tree of Good and Evil.”  They screwed it up, and here we are.  Really?  It was twelve words in a declarative sentence about how to maintain the original state of grace.  Our Lord reiterates what His Father revealed in the Old Testament about how we should love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.  He also said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”   But the devil clouds our minds, especially of those who are educated way beyond their abilities. “What does that mean?”  “How can we do this?”  “We better check the nuances of that.”  “Well, that was 2000 years ago, and now this word means something else.”  No.  It really means what it says.  “It means this now because we are all enlightened.”  No, that’s just a temptation of the devil.  We want to be like God and make up our own rules.  When you get to Judgement, let me know how that goes for you.  

Our Lord did not say, “Work it out for yourselves, and whatever you come up with is good.” No.  He was very precise in how He told us to do it because He knew we would mess up.  Follow the Commandments.  By the way, a person’s conscience does not triumph over Divine Mandate or Church teachings.  “My conscience told me it was okay to do this.”  If you go down the street about a half mile and take a left at the courthouse, behind it is a big building full of people whose conscience told them it was okay to do whatever they did.  Also, if you drive down Airport Road to Felon University, there’s a whole bunch of people there who will say, “God told me it was okay to put a bullet in that guy’s head.”  No.  Conscience does not trump Divine Revelation.  The apostles had been in the presence of God for years and saw all those miracles, but every time He asked them a question, they got it wrong. 

Our Lord was precise.  Let’s say that you are traveling, and you think the Mass is at 8:30 at Our Lady of Perpetual Agony down the street.  You get ready and go, but they moved the Mass to 7:30.  Are you guilty of missing Mass on Sunday?  No, because you tried. Are you guilty of missing Mass if you got your days mixed up and thought November 2nd was a Holy Day when it was actually on November 1st?  No, you’re not.  But, when you give the Church the big humph, well then you have a problem.  God tells us exactly how to love.  He knew we would mess it up because of our fallen nature.  We are supposed to try to return to the original state of grace by living a life of holiness, and we can by doing what He told us to do.  

 “What would Jesus do?”  Jesus told us precisely what to do.  If we do what He said to do, we will get what He has promised.  Two weeks ago, I went to see my cardiologist.  It was a great appointment because he never put on a glove.  One glove is bad enough, but when they double-glove, be very afraid. . .it might get mildly invasive.  “Now this is going to hurt a bit.”  No it’s not.  It’s going to hurt a heck of a lot!  It’s not a thrill for anybody on the other side of the glove either…trust me on this one.  I saw a doctor give a patient a rabies shot in the finger. Wherever you are bitten, that’s where you get the shot now. This guy was a Vietnam Vet, and he was no sissy boy.  The doctor said, “Now this is going to hurt.” The guy was sitting in a chair, and he grabbed both chair arms while nurses held him down by his shoulders.  After the shot, he decided to relax a while on a gurney. Afterward, I was talking to the doctor, and he said, “Oh, it’s going hurt worse tomorrow.”  Who are you, Joseph Mengela?  Anyway, my cardiologist said that my blood work is fine.  I’m normal – at least my blood is.  I’ve been keeping records from when I started this heart regime two years ago after my brother’s death.  There is improvement because I did what I was told to do.  Did I always like it?  I’ll let you be the judge.  When I go out to breakfast with the staff, they have French toast and bacon while I have fake eggs and dry wheat toast. What do you think?  To make matters worse, they go on and on about how good their food is.  Stuff it!  I’m not brave enough to tell them, but that’s what I’m thinking. Still, I did what my doctor told me to do, and I have scientific evidence that my health has improved.  However, it just means I’m going to die of something else. 

Our Lord showed us exactly what we should do.  Love your enemies and pray for them. Sometimes, the most loving thing to do is not the thing we want to do.  We all have someone who irks us and who we just cannot stand.  I am not immune even as a priest.  Am I supposed to forgive them?  Yes, even though sometimes I’d like to go charismatic and lay hands on them. Forgiveness is an act of intellectual love. . . an act of faith.  What are we supposed to do?  We are supposed to pray for them.  Pray for good for them. . .and not to have an aneurism.  Pray for their conversion.  Pray that God will lay hands on them and not from the Joe Cutrone School of Counselling. 

Our Lord left us precise ways to show our love for Him and precise ways to show that love in action. What did our Lord tell us about forgiveness?  He gave us an example of what that love is in the parable of the prodigal son.  In the parable, the father didn’t wait for his son to grovel.  He ran out to meet his son, put his arms around him, and kissed him on the cheek.  He even had a celebration for him.  Likewise, our Lord went out after sinners.  He went to sick people like the blind man and healed them.  He didn’t ask if they wanted to be healed; He healed them anyway.  We are supposed to do that for those who hate us, for those who don’t love us, and for those who are unkind to us.  He told us to love one another, and this is how we are to demonstrate our love.  He showed us exactly what to do even to the point of the Cross.

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 – October 24, 2021 – “There’s Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself”

 “There’s Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

October 23 – 24, 2021

Gospel:  Mark 10:46-52

I was having my car washed the other day because I’m lazy and old.  I always go to the same place, and while I was at the carwash, I saw one of the workers who I’ve met a few times.  The man said, “Hmmm…you served in the Army?”  Yes.  “You were in the 101st Airborne?”  Yes, for about three years. . . He must have seen the 101st sticker on my car.  The man said, “I saw a movie about them when they were in Vietnam.  I couldn’t do what they did.”  Well, they weren’t Superman; they were just boys from the neighborhood.  However, we had been convinced that we were Superman, and we certainly acted like it with a big red “S” on our chest and thinking we could do anything.  I wanted to ask the man at the carwash who had told him that he couldn’t do it.  I mean, I’m not Schwarzenegger, and I made it.  So, who told you that you couldn’t do it? 

It was the same thing that told our first parents they were naked.  God asked Adam and Eve, “Who told you that you were naked?”   Why did God create us?  What’s the first question in the old Catechism?  By the way, the Catechism is the best teaching tool we have in the Church.  God made us because He loves us and so that we can be with Him forever.  He is always calling us to everlasting life.  The Gospel tells us, “Go to Him.  He is calling you.”  Our Lord calls us to Him. Bartimaeus did not take time to think about his fears, and even though he was blind, he went to Jesus.  Which is interesting because it doesn’t say that somebody helped him…he just ran to Jesus.  Ask a blind man to go somewhere without help.  But he did.  It is possible.  So, don’t say, “I can’t do it.” 

Our Lord calls us to holiness.  And what is holiness?  It’s a return to our original state.  The original state of man and the state we are called to is not sin.  The original state of man and the one that Jesus wants to transform us to is the state of Adam and Eve before the fall.  It was the state of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  They were truly human.  It is sin that makes us less than human.  Sin was never supposed to be in our souls. 

The saints prove it is possible to return to holiness. . .to strive for holiness and to achieve the greatest amount of holiness we can in this life and perfection in the next.  The saints prove it is possible, and they were just like us.  They weren’t supermen or superwomen.  They were just like us, but they took advantage of the graces that God offers.  God calls us, no matter our state or vocation, to offer us the grace we need to return to holiness.  He doesn’t ask us to do the impossible. He offers us the necessary grace to do it, but we must reach out and take that grace and cooperate with it. 

Each time we come to Mass and receive Holy Communion or go to Confession, we grow in faith, hope, and charity which are what we call the Theological or infused virtues.  We do not get them by prayer or works.  They are infused in us through worthy reception of the Sacraments and are activated by works and prayer.  Go to Mass.  Go to Confession.  Acquired virtues you get by doing works.  Acquired and Theological virtues give us the power to turn away from sin and live for God.  Use the virtues you have.  An example is the virtue of music that Frankie has by reading that coded musical language that nobody understands.  She has the gift of being able to play the organ and piano so well, but if she stops playing, she will lose the gift.  We must exercise our gifts…we have to use them.  When you do, don’t be afraid by the lack of results or reception. We are doing it for God Himself.  Do not fear.  He is calling you.  Run to Him.

We take counsel of our fears, and we should never do that because fear is always a lie.  The worse thing I ever lived through never happened.  We are afraid we might lose something, that it will be too hard, that we can’t do it, or that we won’t have any fun.  Anybody can do brain surgery if you are willing to go to medical school.  Take it one step at a time.  You won’t be asked to do brain surgery on the first day.  You’ll have to wait six or seven years before you can.  Do not be afraid. The Master is calling you.  He is calling us to share in the blessings and joys of heaven. “Does He know all my faults?”  Yeah, I’m pretty sure He does.  “Does He know I’m not perfect?”  Yeah, I’m pretty sure He knows that too.  He wants to help make you perfect.  We become perfect in heaven.  We progress each day taking up our cross and following Him. . . Each day by bearing our sufferings. . .Each day by asking for the grace we need to carry our cross. 

Remember the spiritual lie: “Oh I’m good…my relationship is good.”   Did you know that’s the worse spot to be in?  You have too much confidence in yourself, and that’s when you should be very afraid.  Self-satisfaction is saying, “I’m fine just the way I am.”  The good Lord will say, “Fine.” Come back when you’re not.”  Grow ever closer to Him.  We have nothing to fear.  Get up and go to Him.  In our fallen state, just like Bartimaeus, we will be restored to the way we are supposed to be.  So, in the words of Gospel, “You have nothing to fear from Him.  Get up.  He is calling you.” 

Father’s Afterthoughts:
I don’t recommend anyone imitating my style.  It is particular.  I give some people nicknames like “Face” that just come to me.  I really should up my meds.  On Friday I was up at the VA.  I knocked on a patient’s door and called out to him.  The patient, Tommy, had been asleep and grumbled as he was trying to wake up.  So, in my most commanding voice, I said “On your feet soldier!!”  That got Tommy’s mind right.  It snapped him right back to the old days.  With other patients, you can’t do that, but with Tommy I can.  You know Congress made me an officer and a gentleman?  Never, ever trust those people!  

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 – October 10 – “Because I Like Skittles”

“Because I Like Skittles”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 October 9 – 10, 2021

Gospel:  Mark 10:17-30

One day when I was at Fort Campbell, I went into the First Sergeant’s office to say, “good morning.”   The First Sergeant said, “Good morning.  Hey Sir, you know your chaplain’s assistant is graduating from air assault school.  His road march is on Friday.”   Oh, goodie!  Thanks for reminding me.  I appreciate it!   I left his office, but I didn’t appreciate it.  It meant that on Friday at 0-dark-30, I would be out there for graduation and the final test:  a 12-mile march in full field gear through gently rolling hills similar to the Alps.  The custom at Fort Campbell and the 101st is that if there is one person in your section doing push-ups or a road march, you all do it.  The only saving grace is that I didn’t have to wear the field gear.  Oh, there is nothing I’d rather do first thing in the morning than go on a 12-mile march at 44 years old.  Thank you, First Sergeant!  I probably could have gotten out of it, but I sucked it up and went anyway.  I was looking forward to the relaxation and being one with Mother Nature.   Um…No.   I would be running with children who basically had to run all the time.  Why did we do it?  We sacrificed to build and reinforce the bond of trust we have with our fellow soldiers…the band of brothers.  Is it pleasant?  Oh, heck no!  But it was the right thing to do.  They are works of love.  The bond with your fellow soldier is that he would die for you and you for him.  Works of love don’t always have to be enjoyed.  Why do we perform works of love?  We do them because it pleases the beloved. 

Our Lord said, “If you love Me keep my Commandments.”  Nowhere did our Lord say, “if you would like to” or “if it’s convenient” or “if you aren’t too busy” or “if you’re in the mood.”  He never said those things.  He said, “If you love Me keep my Commandments.”  The Commandments are not just draconian measures that our Lord has given us to ruin our fun.  The works of love teach us how to go outside of ourselves, to renounce our fallen nature, and to do something for Him.  It may manifest itself in someone or through someone else.  Everything we do with love; we do for Christ.  Doing works of love is not always pleasant.  Do you know why some people find the works of love unpleasant?  Because we are too much in love with ourselves.  The works of love are always focused on the beloved and not on self.   The Gift of the Magi is a short love story written by O. Henry.   Love is always focused on the other, and when we find the works of love inconvenient, unpleasant, or distasteful, that is the time we grow most in love by dying to ourselves and living more for our good Lord.  “Father, I had a game and couldn’t come to Mass.”  Really?  Saint Augustine wrote that “if there is any work involved in love, the work itself is love.”  And that is true.  The young man who approached our good Lord was unwilling to leave everything and follow Him.  Our Lord was testing him.  How much do you love Me?  The young man kept the Commandments and that was wonderful; however, he did not learn the lesson from them.  What is the lesson from the Ten Commandments?   It is total renunciation of oneself to the Beloved.   That’s the lesson.  Go sell everything you have.  Give to the poor.  Your possessions are a representation of yourself.  Give everything you have into service for our good Lord to use as He sees fit.  All the fruits of your talents and labors when used to support your family are works of justice and love.  So don’t feel bad about that.   People say you cannot earn a lot of money from the job you’ve worked at for 30 or 40 years.  You can’t enjoy it because you didn’t earn it.  It’s a work of justice and moral obligation to support yourself and your family and ultimately to pay taxes.  Put yourself and all your talents and abilities in God’s hands.  Renounce yourself and give yourself to Him.  The young man did not see that.  Hopefully, he eventually got it right. 

You’ve heard the phrase “follow the science.”  Who says that?  People who want you to follow their version of “science.”  You know what the science is for people recovering from any addiction?  No matter how much medicine is involved, make sure they come back from Opioids, Meth, or booze, and that they don’t die from detox.  That’s a big drawback.  In all the twelve-step programs, what’s the key to renewal and freedom from addictions and obsessions?  It begins with Step 1 which is perhaps the most important step – admitting that we are powerless.  The final step is to have a spiritual awakening.  There is a Seventh Step prayer…I’ll let you look that up too.  It’s a prayer of total renunciation.  In all the groups that started these types of programs what was the first prayer?  It wasn’t the “Our Father” but the “Peace Prayer” by Saint Francis.  “Lord make me an instrument of Your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” That’s a renunciation of self.  Take me and use me as you will with all my talents especially where it is most helpful for people who know my faults.  It’s through your faults that shows people what God has done for you and the mercy he has shown to us all.  We do works of love not for ourselves because it pleases us…that’s selfishness.   The Commandments aren’t legal checkmarks you have to do like driving the speed limit when the police are around.  The Commandments are works of love.  They teach us renunciation of self. They are only burdensome when we want what we want when we want it, or we find them to be inconvenient because we love ourselves more.  They are not always convenient.  They are not always pleasant.  I’m sure changing diapers is not always pleasant.  I’ve been in hospitals.  Believe me, there are far worse smells in a hospital than in a diaper.  Trust me on this one.   Sometimes I leave patients’ rooms and have Skittles.  Know why I have Skittles?  Because I like Skittles. 

We all have fallen natures.  Just this morning I was here, long before you, saying my prayers.  And I really wanted some coffee.  I mean I REALLY wanted coffee.  The coffee had already been brewed.  But what was more important… my cup of coffee or my prayers?   You know the answer, but darn it, I wanted some coffee.  Today, the good side of my nature won, but it’s always a fight.  So, when difficulties come, always remember Who the works of love are for.

Father’s Afterthoughts:

·       I want to thank the Daughters of Mary for the marvelous meal they provided after the funeral Mass  for Elaine Gibbs.  The funeral luncheons they do is something to die for.  

·         When I was in the Army, I always loved those eight mile runs in the rain.  It was so refreshing and cleansing.  Thank you, sir.  Could you make this suck any more?

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 – September 25-26, 2021 – None of Us are Getting Out of Here Alive

“None of Us are Getting Out of Here Alive”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 September 25 – 26, 2021

Gospel:  Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

I want to tell you about my evil twin brother, Paul.  While I was on vacation, I went to the local diner where it’s like Cheers with food, and everyone knows your name.  If you are a regular, you pour your own coffee and bus your own table.  The owner told me that my brother was the happiest when he could do something for someone else.  That was very nice to hear. 

I have good news and bad news for you today.  The good news is about the latest that I have read about Covid.  It’s 99.5% survivable.  Now, that’s really good news!  The bad news is that life is 0.0% survivable.  None of us are getting out of here alive.  One day the doctor is going to tell us that our birth certificate has been canceled.  When I was in Gitmo, I was outside the hooch one night with Father Seamus, a Norbertine father, while he was having a cigar.  This Air Force doctor walked by and said, “You know, Padre, that’s going to kill you.”  Father Seamus took a drag on his cigar and said, “And what are you planning on dying of doctor?”  We are called in the 5th Commandment to take all moral and prudent means to protect our health. 

We are also called to prepare ourselves to meet Christ and to grow daily in holiness.  This dispels the fear that the devil creates about our passing whenever that will be.  Sometimes it will be like Dorothy Strube at age 96, and sometimes it will be much sooner.  There was an announcement in the obituaries about a gentleman who was 46 when he passed away.  We don’t know when it will happen, but constant communion with Him in this life will make us happier and make those around us happier.  It will dispel the fear of transitioning from this life to the next…hopefully to heaven, if you do it right.

I read about this one man who committed murder in France and who was sentenced to death. His conversion in prison was so great and so amazing, that he was nominated for sainthood for being a servant of God.  He did go to the block…the French took their heads off in those days.  So, he was executed, but he was nominated for sainthood for such was his transition even in that small window.  My point is this: Why wait for that small window? 

We are called to grow closer to God.  Drawing close to Him will provide peace for our souls.  That moment of death will not be tragic.  Instead, it will be a fulfillment of our love.  Two hearts who love each other so tenderly will be together for all of eternity and never separated by sin.  I say that to the dying.  I say, “Make your peace with God and go meet your savior.  You will never lose Him again.”  That’s where we are all headed…to have peace so that we can become holy. 

Do not let your crosses, whatever they may be or how many you may have, cause you to think you aren’t doing something right.  “If I were doing it right, my crosses would be much lighter, and I wouldn’t fall so often.”  All of that is “bravo sierra” from the devil.  Saint Teresa of Avila said, “If this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few.”  Conversely, the more crosses you seem to have, the greater the love Christ has for you.  So, carry your cross, if not for yourself, for others and drawing them to salvation and away from the suffering of the world.  The devil uses many things – he is the father of lies – and he may make you think you are not drawing closer to God when, in fact, you are.  Be prudent about your health in all things.  Also, realize that no matter how many things there are to triumph over, there will be a moment when God will call you from this life to another.  And, He will ask you, “Did you love Me?”

How will you apply this message to your life?  Are you taking all moral and prudent means to protect your health as we are asked to do in the 5th Commandment?  Are you preparing to meet Christ by growing in holiness?

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”  From a cell phone, click on “Blog” then “Menu” and then “Categories” (located at the end of page).  Sermon notes can also be found on the church Facebook page by Googling “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”


Sermon Notes – September 5, 2021 – I’m Sorry . . . So Sorry!

I’m Sorry. . . So Sorry!

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

September 4 – 5, 2021

Gospel:  Mark 7: 31-37

In the Gospel, our Lord healed the deaf man.  Why?  Read the story. . .He was asked.  A lot of us do not ask for miracles.  Why does Jesus do miracles?  Well, for a couple of reasons.  First, it is very revelatory.  It reveals a number of things about God.  But, let’s put that aside for a moment.  Did the deaf man ask for a miracle?  No, he couldn’t. His friends did through intercessory prayer, and that’s very important.  Also, did our Lord say to the man and his friends, “I’d really like to help, but have you given to the DSA?” “Have you given very good stuff to the yard sale?”  “How are your Sunday collections going?”  “Are you helping out at the church?”  “Have you brought Father food?”  Good food…no cucumbers!  No.  He didn’t interrogate them.  Our Lord restored the man’s hearing and his speech because He loved him.  Our Lord never refused a miracle to anyone who asked or to anyone who didn’t ask.  He knew that the woman would touch His garment, and He used that as an example. 

Miracles are expressions of who and what our Lord is.  He gives us favors and miracles because He loves us.  They are gifts of His love.  They are meant to draw our hearts to Him and to sustain us in being.  Scripture tells us that our Lord lets the rain fall on the just and unjust.  It revealed to the people of Israel who our Lord was.  Our Lord is God.  He can heal our infirmities.  Do I have my physical limitations?  Oh, heck yeah!  My mind writes checks that my body cannot cash.  I’m 68, and I still think I’m 18.  Saint Paul said that if you ask for prayers of healing, sometimes it will happen and sometimes it won’t.  But, the Lord told Saint Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  God does miracles all the time over at Atrium Health.  When people undergo bypass surgery, the healing is very slow.  First, they get the surgery, then they wake up, and then they go to therapy.  Everything moves at a slow pace, but they are our Lord’s miracles.

Miracles reveal God’s nature.  Do you know what God’s nature is?  God’s nature is love itself.  Jesus was love incarnate.  He came to give the gift of His love which is Himself. There are a number of miracles recorded in the Gospel, and there are more that are not as Saint John tells us at the end of his gospel.  The Lord gives us these gifts to show His love and His awareness of our needs.  What does God want in return?  Our love. That is what gifts of love are.  They are given freely.  Our Lord gives us these gifts of love to help turn our hearts toward Him and away from ourselves. 

Keep praying for His gifts.  Sometimes He says “No.”  However, when He says “no,” He gives us the grace to handle His answer and to bear whatever difficulties it brings.  I will tell you that it doesn’t seem that way.  I’m still not a Monsignor after 38 years, and I’m not happy about it.  But I’m humble, and I can handle it.  Our good Lord gives us the gift of Himself which is the greatest miracle of all.  His miracles are not just for physical ailments.  The greatest miracle is not the gift that someone gives you, it’s the gift of themselves. The physical aspects of the gift are signs of an invisible reality.  As Catholics, we see the greatest gift of all here in church. . .the gift of Christ Himself in Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Penance.  He gives it freely because He wants our love. He loves us so much that He allows Himself to be handled by an evil and sinful man such as myself.  God gives us these gifts not because we deserve them.  You cannot earn love. He gives these gifts because He loves us.  He created us out of love.  He gives us these gifts of love to draw us away from ourselves and back to Him.  So, keep praying for miracles. 

Father’s Afterthoughts:

I have been blessed with family and friends who point out my faults.  Do I have my faults?  “No, Father.”  Yes, I do, but thank you for that.  God gives me the grace to carry my crosses.  One of the great graces that God gives us for carrying our crosses and our faults is humility.   He gives us the humility to go back to someone and say you screwed up and ask for forgiveness.  Even I make mistakes on occasion, and when I do, I ask for forgiveness.  That’s how we show God’s love.  You’d be surprised when you say to someone, “I’m sorry.”  It is like the old Brenda Lee song, “I’m Sorry…So Sorry.”  Say “I’m sorry” to someone, and they may say, “Whatever.”  There’s a big difference between saying “I’m sorry” and “forgive me.”  Have you ever heard a song with “forgive me” in the lyrics?  Saying “forgive me” shows God’s power working in you.   

How will you apply this message to your life?  Are you praying for His gifts?

Email BeckyHraczo@gmail.com if you would like sermon notes emailed to you.  Also, you can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com/ and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.


Sermon Notes – August 15 – You Visit My Mother . . . I Remember Your Name

“You Visit My Mother. . . I Remember Your Name”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 August 14 – 15, 2021

Gospel:  Luke 11:27-28

Where I’m from up north, I lived in a diverse community with very strong ethnic ties and associations.   There was this gentleman who approached a priest and said, “Hey Father, you visit my mother – I remember your name.”  Okay…I’d love to.  What son, as hated as this gentleman allegedly was, doesn’t want to honor his mother.  There’s no shame in honoring one’s mother.  That’s true for us even with all our sins.  What about our good Lord?  He was the only child in history who actually created His mother.  Throughout the centuries, for thousands of years, the Church has always called for devotion to the Blessed Mother – not for worship or adoration – that belongs only to God Himself – but for devotion.  It’s not just a pious tradition for old women sitting in their living-rooms knitting, it’s for the whole Church.  Over the past 50 years or so, Devotion to the Blessed Mother has really fallen to the wayside which is sad, because people really don’t know their faith or scripture.  Non-Catholics say, “I study scripture and I pray scripturally.”  Well, if you studied scripture and prayed scripturally, you would be Catholic.  When you honor the Blessed Mother, you are praying scripturally. 

You’ve heard the proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Saint Luke.  Where did Luke get his gospel?  He wasn’t one of the apostles.  At the Annunciation, Mary was alone when the angel came to her.  Luke wasn’t there.  He wasn’t at Elizabeth’s house when Mary visited her.  So, where did he get all of this information?  Did Luke channel his inner Miss Cleo the psychic?  The first part of the Gospel of Luke is known as the Gospel of Mary, because she told him everything that’s in it.  So, Mary’s words are scriptural.  All of those people who have gotten biblical, theological, or philosophy degrees and who are not Catholic, should sue their professors for theological and intellectual malpractice.  You wasted your money.  Because if you made it this far in the scriptures, then you must be Catholic, and you must honor the Blessed Mother. 

What did Mary say further into the Magnificat?  “All generations will call me blessed.”  So, it’s a scriptural command to honor the mother of Jesus.  It has been 70 years since the so-called Second Vatican Council and some decided that devotion to the Blessed Mother was not scriptural.  Really?  Devotion is decreasing and along with it purity and belief in the Real Presence.  In order to understand Jesus, you have to understand Mary.  In theological studies, Mariology (the study of Mary) is a subset of Christology (the study of Christ).   It was from the Blessed Mother that He took His human nature.  If you look throughout scripture, I’m not going to give you a whole class on Mariology today – it’s a semester-long study – but just look at the highlights.  Protestants say they don’t have to rely on the saints.  Really?  Where is that in scripture?  Who interceded for us before the first miracle recorded in scripture?  The Blessed Mother at the wedding in Cana.   During the Passion, our Lord looked at His mother and said, “Woman, behold your son.”   He then looked at John and said, “Behold your mother.”  Protestants also say, “In order to be saved, you must be washed in the blood.”   Who was standing beneath the cross getting spattered with His blood?  The Blessed Mother.  The blood did not stop. . .the Romans were very good at what they did. When they took her Son down from the cross, He was placed in her lap.  She was covered in His blood.  Was she not bathed in the blood?  Walk in the blood?  After the Resurrection, Mary was in the Upper Room with the apostles when the Holy Spirit came.  This was the second time that the Holy Spirit came to her.  Remember the Annunciation?  The angel said, “Hail full of grace.”  Nobody else in scripture has been called that.  The power of the Holy Spirit came and overshadowed her.  “Oh, you have to be born again in the Holy Spirit.”  Well, Mary did it twice. 

This is why we have devotion to the Blessed Mother.  Just like our own mothers who have died, and hopefully in Heaven, intercede for us to the Holy Father.  How much more so can the mother of Christ intercede for us.  The original woman, the old Eve, took us all out of paradise to the new Eve who leads us to paradise.  Our Blessed Mother is the new Eve. 

Not too long ago, I received a call to go visit woman who was in her last days.  So, I went into the house and gave her the Last Rites.  She said, “Father, I have a Rosary.”  Oh, that’s great!  It was beautiful set of beads.  I said to her, “Hold them in your hands, and as often as you can say the Rosary so that when the time comes when you are to leave this world, our Blessed Mother will come take you by the hand and lead you to her Son.” 

How will you apply this message to your life?  Remain devoted to the Blessed Mother and ask for her intercession with her Son.

 You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to http://annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com/ and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”  From a cell phone, click on “Blog” then “Menu” and then “Categories” (located at the end of page).  There is also a search box if you are looking for a specific topic.


Sermon Notes – August 8 – The Apostles Had a V-8 Moment

“The Apostles Had a V-8 Moment”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 August 7 – 8, 2021

Gospel: John 6: 41-51

On Friday, the Church celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration.  Ten days before His Passion, our good Lord took three of the twelve apostles – Peter, James, and John – up to the mountain to give them the final revelation of who He was …the final miracle before His Passion.  He did this to strengthen them for the trial that was to come.  On the mountain, Jesus lowered the veil of His humanity to show them His divinity.  Remember, Jesus was one Who and two What’s . . . one person and two natures.  The human nature that He took from the Blessed Mother was assumed into His divine nature.  On the altar, when I put one drop of water into the chalice with the wine, it symbolizes two natures in one person.  The wine is consecrated and turned into the Most Precious Blood on the altar.  We have a foretaste of what Heaven will be like. 

Now, the apostles saw Moses and Elijah, but how did they know it was them? There were no pictures.  There were no selfies back in the days of the Old Testament.  There were no statues.  So, how did they know?  Their minds were enlightened in the presence of God.  Moses and Elijah talked to our Lord like one man to another just as we will when we are in Heaven.  They talked about what would happen in future events.  How?  Because Heaven is the eternal now.  God said, “I who I am.”  He is the eternal now . . . no past and no future . . . the eternal present.  It’s a foretaste of His gift.  Our Lord gave the apostles this great gift to strengthen them for the terrible scandal of the cross.  And, what happened?  Even though they had seen three years of miracles and the revelation of who Jesus was, they all took off.  They had not comprehended the lessons.   Afterward, they realized that this is what He is.  They had a spiritual V-8 moment.

Our good Lord, as He did for the apostles, He does for us.  Before our great trials, we have a sense of God’s presence when He manifests Himself to us.  He also does that every now and then to remind us of His love.  Oftentimes, like the apostles, we miss it.  We are too busy, too wound up, and too distracted, so we miss it.  I read a book about 40 years ago by Father Adrian Van Kaam.  In the book, he said, “God speaks to us with ordinary signs like the wind and the stars, and we often miss it.  We are looking for something else.”  With these terribly ordinary signs that we miss, God is telling us that He loves us and is with us. 

During this big crisis we have right now, it may be comforting to think that in ages past it was much better.  Ahh…No.  You know why we think the past was better?  Because we didn’t live in it.  That’s why we think it was much better back then.  But it wasn’t   You weren’t there.  Name for me any time period since the beginning of the world that was much better.  You can’t, because there isn’t one.  Everybody has their crosses in this world.  We are much better off today except for our being so self-absorbed especially during this time.  Now that the Corona virus has mutated into the Delta variant and the Lambda variant, people are panicking.  “Oh my God! We are all going to die!”  Well, I hate to bust your spiritual bubble, but we are all going to die.  “Oh!  This is terrible!”   The Corona virus has a 99% survival rate.  Okay?  It’s much better than anything else we could possibly get.  When I work in the hospital, doctors often tell patients, “We can’t fix you.”  And, they panic.  You know, when you panic, you make wrong decisions.  Fear paralyzes you.  “But, the virus is out there!”  So, what are you going to do about it?  You will take the ordinary precautions and move on with life.  Do not be trapped by fear.  That’s a tool of the devil.  When you listen to his suggestions, it causes you to make bad judgements.   God is always present and giving you signs of His love.  That’s why I never stop the Mass when something happens. . .they are signs that God is with us.  Would I like to be sick?  No, I’d rather not.  I’m not a very good sick person.  I’m not a very good person, in general, but I’m really not a very good sick person.  Besides my personality disorder of being a pain, you know why?  Because I’m a soldier.  I can soldier my way out of this.  Ask Stump or Doc or anyone else who has served in the military.  When I had to undergo anesthesia for a couple of procedures, I thought, “I’m good. I can drive.”  I couldn’t walk, but I thought I could drive.  I’ll be fine!  Like a soldier, I do my job…a sign that God is with me. 

If you stare at something with intent, you will miss the obvious, because you are looking at something else. Keep in mind that every now and then, you will see something extraordinary. Remember that our Lord is constantly with us.  He is always present and desperately trying to get our attention.  Whether it’s through a sign by our Guardian Angel or the Blessed Mother, our Lord shows us that He is present and never far away and may even be right next to you.  God talks to us through people, places, and things.  I’m great at loving myself.  Sometimes, I wonder if God loves me as much as I love me.  I’m pretty sure He loves me more.  My vocation tells me that He does.  We can show human kindness to others through Corporal Works of Mercy.  We can act as Christ would have us act.  Perhaps, we can be nice while driving and let someone in.  Maybe, we can let someone go ahead of us in the checkout line at Wally-World or Harris Teeter . . . just ordinary, everyday things.  Showing extra courtesy is so extraordinary these days..  We can show courtesy not by just doing things, but by not doing things.  If someone cuts you off in traffic or is going ten miles below the speed limit or doing what I call “the slinky” . . . their speed goes from 40 to 58 to 25 to 52.  Yo, dude, you’ve got cruise control on that car.  Use it!   If it’s an older driver, you don’t know what’s going on with them.  They may be crackers, so you need to practice patience.  Say the Rosary.  Also, if they are really old people – if you can’t see them over the back seat – they are probably on their way to Florida.  They are like a Q-Tip driving a car.  All you can see is this puff of white hair over the seat.  But they may have just buried their husband.  They may have just buried their wife.  Wouldn’t we love for someone to show us extra courtesy?  We have our troubles too.  So, if we are willing, God can use our human nature, like He used the one He took from Mary, to show His love to the world and make it visible.

How will you apply this message to your life? Will you show human kindness to others through the Corporal Works of Mercy? 

 You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to http://annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com/ and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”  From a cell phone, click on “Blog” then “Menu” and then “Categories” (located at the end of page).  There is also a search box if you are looking for a specific topic.


Sermon Notes – July 25 – We Repeat What We Do Not Repair

 “We Repeat What We Do Not Repair”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 July 24 – 25, 2021

Gospel:  John 6:1-15

It is said that lessons must be repeated until they are learned which means, for most of us, lessons need to be constantly repeated.  Sometimes, you think you’ve learned a lesson, but you learned it incorrectly.  Other times, we see things and know right away this means this and that means that.  We’ve taken something away from the lesson that wasn’t really there. Oops!  We need to be better students and learners.  Do you know which virtue “learning” is connected to?  Justice.  I remember one man, a seminarian and now a priest, who asked me for advice.  I told him to always take his books into the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament.  If you are going to read about the Man, then be with the Man.  Good idea…I have a few now and again. 

In the story about God’s miracle involving the loaves and fishes, 5,000 men were there who could not find places to sit…that’s a lot of men.  There were no women and children there…apparently, they had not been vaccinated.  Now, this scripture was written in Hebrew, so 5,000 was a number beyond all counting… an infinite number.  Philip told our Lord that “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little bit.”  So, was Philip like Stuart Varney, a market watcher?  Did he watch the market and know the cost of food?  No, Philip was using a hyperbole…a number beyond comprehension.  After everyone had eaten, the apostles collected 12 baskets of leftover food.  The number 12 is another mystical number in Hebrew representing the 12 nations of Israel.  So, it was a huge number beyond counting, demonstrating the power of Christ and what He can do.  And, what did they learn from the miracle?  They learned the wrong thing.  They thought He was the “bread king.”  “Hey, He fed us, so He’s going to give us stuff we didn’t have to work for. Cool!  We will make Him king, and we’ll get all the stuff we want.”  This was another temptation of Christ.  Remember, the first temptation?  After spending 40 days of fasting in the desert, Satan said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”   After seeing the miracle with the loaves and fishes, did people want holiness and their souls filled?  No, they wanted their stomachs filled. They wanted stuff.  The temptation of Christ was to give people stuff even though He came for the salvation of souls.  First things first.

People come every day and want stuff from the church.  Their stories are really fun, but it’s not what we can give.  In Acts, Peter said, “Silver and gold I have none; but what I have, I give you.  Pick up your mat and walk.”   At first, even the apostles didn’t get the lesson.  He came down to redeem you.  That was the lesson to take away.  After all the miracles our good Lord did, how many were there with Him at the end?  They did not learn the lesson until they were enlightened by grace.  They had the knowledge, because they had heard Him.  They weren’t idiots, but they didn’t know what the knowledge meant.  This is when we have to go to prayer to listen and to be enlightened.  You may have the knowledge, but that doesn’t guarantee you know what it means. 

I was reading an article this morning about the old Latin Mass.  “People did not participate in the Latin Mass.”  Or, in the order of the Mass we do now, “People must participate.  They have to run up and down the aisle.  We have to do a better job.”  I say, at best, that is blasphemy and at worst, it’s sacrilegious, because you know nothing about the Mass.  If you took a picture at Calvary, how many people were running around?  Do you think the Blessed Mother was crucifying Jesus?  No.  They stood there and shared in His suffering.  They became part of His suffering through love.  Whose human nature suffered on the cross? The Blessed Mother’s.  Whose human nature suffered along with Him?  That of Saint John the Apostle, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.   This is what the faithful do, because in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, you give your human nature to me, as the priest functioning in the person of Christ, and you are just like Saint John, Mary, and Mary at the cross suffering with Christ.  You cannot get more participation than that.  The people who say these things never offered Mass, and they probably aren’t priests.  If they are, they are stupid ones.  When I offer Mass in nursing homes, I don’t get much singing and all that.  Sometimes, the mentally challenged residents will yell out during Mass, “Father, I have an idea!”  We’ll talk about it after Mass.  Do they participate?  Yes, as much as they can. 

People have heard the lesson and they have the knowledge, but they have no idea what it means.  In order to have knowledge, we have to be humble, and we have to become small.  As Saint Therese of Lisieux said, “When I am small, I am safe.”  We must surrender to judgement.  Sometimes, we tell God, “I cannot do this…I don’t understand.”  Well, I don’t understand a lot of things.  Each day I’m mystified by something, and that’s okay.  I don’t have to understand everything.  I know a lot of bright people I can call up or text, not while I’m driving, and probably get some guidance.  Why does God allow this?  Why did God allow this to happen?  It’s always good to ask, not for understanding, but for the strength to bear what we cannot endure.  Sometimes, our lives and our crosses seem too much to bear.  To learn the proper lessons our Lord is teaching us today is a precursor to the Eucharist.  Lord, speak for your servant is listening.

How will you apply this message to your life? You may have the knowledge, but do you know what it means?   Go to prayer to listen and to be enlightened. 

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to http://annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com/ and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.”  From a cell phone, click on “Blog” then “Menu” and then “Categories” (located at the end of page).  There is also a search box if you are looking for a specific topic.

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