Sermon Notes – May 5, 2024 – “We Have the Tools to Become Saints”

“We Have the Tools to Become Saints”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

May 4 – 5, 2024

Gospel: John 15:9-17

In your prayer life, I encourage you to thank God for keeping you safe.  Also, ask your Guardian Angel to cover you with his or her wings so that you may have a safe night free of temptation and illness and can sleep soundly.  Do the same when you get up in the morning.  Ask your Guardian Angel to protect you with their wings as you go through your day to protect you from the dangers of satan, both temporal and spiritual.  Also, remember to say “thank you” at night and in the morning for their watchfulness over you. 

This past week we had the feast of Saint Catherine of Sienna.  She did a lot for the Church in her short life.  She was only 33 when she died, medicine being what it was five centuries ago.  In her short 33 years, she lived an extraordinary life.  I used to love reading about the lives of saints, which is why I never read fiction . . . it was boring.  The amazing thing about Saint Catherine is that she had no initials before or after her name like Most Reverend Bishop, STD (Doctor of Sacred Theology and not a disease), DD (Doctor of Divinity), or JCD (Doctor of Canon Law).  Whoopee!  That does not impress me.  I have initials after my name, and I also have a nice title – Very Reverend – which went south when the bishop retired.  Does that make me a brighter person?  Not necessarily.  All it proves is that I can pass tests. 

However, knowing how to take tests doesn’t mean you are holy.  Look at Saint Therese of Lisieux.  She didn’t graduate from college, nor did she take the Lay Ministry Program offered by our diocese.  But a century later, the Church made her a Doctor of the Church for her holiness.  Saints Therese and Catherine, like so many other saints, reached out and grasped the means to lead a holy life and change the world or their piece of it.   They cooperated with God’s grace each in their own vocation.  Their ability to become holy was the same as ours is today through the Sacraments offered by Holy Mother Church.  They had the same means to become holy as we do.  We all have different abilities and vocations.  Bob will not allow me to handle power tools.  He made that decision so that I wouldn’t hurt myself.  The staff will not allow me to work on phones and on computers.  Also, I know better than to try to work in the kitchen.  That’s not going to happen in my lifetime either.  We all have talents and abilities in every different sphere.  However, we share one common ability, no matter our education, which is holiness.  You are here so that you can take advantage of it and convert the world as the saints did.  I am at least twice the age of Saint Catherine of Sienne when she passed, and I am almost three times the age of Saint Therese de Lisieux when she passed.   Holiness is not a comparative thing, but when I think back on my life, I don’t know if I have done anything that compares to them.  I may have some explaining to do in a little while.  So, in my meditation, I reflect on how to aspire to greater acts of holiness and penance so that I may become like them. 

The ability to be holy does not atrophy.  If we get hurt and are laid up in bed for a while, we get to take physical therapy.  That’s a lot of fun!  I was at the hospital and these pretty young ladies came in.  They seemed so sweet, but the next thing I heard from the patient’s room was “OOOOOOH!”   I have a massage therapist who helps me with my bad back.  When the pain gets to be too much, I let out an “AAAAAH,” and she’ll say, “I’m helping you, Father.”  I feel it!  I really do!  Our muscles atrophy when we don’t use them, but the ability to be holy does not.  The ability to be holy is always there to be reawakened, enlivened, and fulfilled.  The ability to be transformed and to transform the world around us is always there.  We never lose it.  We just have to cooperate with the means to be holy that God gave us.  Holiness is not given to us because we are nice people.  I would like to think I’m the greatest guy I know, and I usually do.  But holiness and my talents have not been given to me because I’m me.  They’ve been given to me to use for you.  So however close I get to Almighty God, that closeness is not a reward for being who or what I am.  It is a gift for you to help build up the Body of Christ.  We have the same ability to be holy just as the great saints did.  We don’t need initials before or after our names.  We don’t have to participate in any special programs or ministries.  I think about the parish I grew up in.  It was crammed with WWII veterans.  Think about what those men and women did.  It was a small French-speaking parish, but they built a church, a school, and a convent.  They also produced five priests from my generation.  Two of those priests have passed.  I remember those men and women very well because it was a small parish.  None of them held spiritual degrees, but they had Christ in their hearts.

Some of us were early bloomers like Saint Catherine, and some of us were late bloomers.  We won’t know what we have and have not accomplished until we are standing before the Throne of God.  The same gifts that were made available to the saints when they cooperated with God’s grace are available to us.  They show the amazing transformation that can happen when we cooperate with God’s grace.   You can find a saint who was in any condition you may have but who was transformed.  The Church investigates potential saints quite vigorously.  They comb through everything written or said by candidates that could be made suspect.  It’s like a spiritual colonoscopy.  So, when people are raised at what is called the Dignity of the Altar and declared a saint, you know their lives have been investigated thoroughly.  The same grace Saint Catherine or any of the saints had is available to us anytime.  God can, does, has, and will give us that same transforming power to change our piece of the world by bringing God’s love, grace, and peace to those who need it.

Father’s Reflections . . .
I’ve been thinking about the four law enforcement officers who were killed in Charlotte two weeks ago.  Despite everyone having fresh plumbing, computers, and cell phones, there’s a lot of evil in the world, so it’s not a lack of stuff that makes people bad.  They’re sick.  Those four brave men won their eternal salvation.  Please keep their families in your prayers. 

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.”  On a cell phone: click on “Blog” and then “Menu.”  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Categories.”  Sermon Notes are also available on the Church’s Facebook page at OLA.Catholic.Church.  Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”


Sermon Notes – April 28, 2024 – “Are You Blowing Off God?”

“Are You Blowing Off God?”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

April 27 – 28, 2024


Gospel: John 15:1-8

I appreciate the warm welcome back from my vacation.  Many of you have asked how my vacation was.  It was exhausting.  Now you may be thinking, “But Father, you were on vacation. You had a chance to rest.”   When does a mother and father have a chance to rest?  Just asking.  I’m going back to the area I grew up as a priest, and I have my own little parish there.  Everyone wants to talk to me.  My vacation started this way:  I got up in the morning and when I went into the kitchen for coffee, I stepped in a bunch of cat poop.  Okay, this is going to be fun!  After that it just got weird.  I encountered a lot of episodes of WTMI (way too much information) during which I just sat there and said, “Uh-huh, Uh-huh, okay, yeah.”   I went to see my aunt, who is also my godmother, and my two cousins Sheryl and Lisa.  At one point, all three women were talking to me at once.  Now, I can’t tell my 95-year-old godmother to “shut up” but my cousins I can, and I did.   Shut up!   “What do you mean?”  Did I stutter?   I love you but together you two drive me nuts!  This is why I live alone and why living in a monastery appeals to me.  

Every day I went to the diner which is like the TV show “Cheers” with grease on a plate.   I have my own little parish there too.  I saw this one man who I’ve known for years.  When I first met him, he told me he had been in Vietnam.  He came home after basic training and AIT (job training) and got married.  Ten days later he was on a plane to Saigon.  When he got back home, he became an Elvis impersonator.  Gotta love a guy like that!  When I talked to his wife, I said, “He wasn’t the same young man you sent away, was he?”   She began to cry and said, “No.”  I complimented her, and I still do because she was the one who brought him home from the war.  It’s a type of on-the-job training.  My mother and aunts had to do it for my father and uncles without a textbook or instruction manual to guide them.  They didn’t talk about it although a few of them mentioned it to me before they died.  They had to bring their husbands home, so they taught their children not to sneak up on their dads.   Do not surprise Dad.  So, I’ve watched this man’s health deteriorate over the years.  I’m not “House” but there have been obvious signs.  He has had a lot of maladies due to his time in Vietnam.  During the first part of my vacation, he told me that his doctors had placed him in palliative care.  Well, some people live forever on palliative care, so I wasn’t concerned about that.  Near the end of my vacation, he told me that his doctors had given him the bad news that he had six months to a year to live, and he started to cry a bit.   The agent orange had caught up with him.   On the last day I was home, I told him I would see him in September, and he said, “No, you won’t.”   

This is a funny story about another guy.  Remember I told you that I know a guy?   Well, this is the guy.  I mean the Feds even bugged his phone, so he is the guy.  He’s not in the business anymore, however, he’s open to referrals.  So, I do know a guy.  About 30 years ago, his friend helped him get out of the business and become the wonderful guy he is today.  But his friend is dying and is in a trauma unit at a hospital in Rhode Island.  He wanted to see him but felt bad about intruding on the family.   So, he called his friend’s daughter and asked, “May I come to see your father?  I don’t want to interrupt the family if it’s a bad time.”  She said, “Yes, of course.  He wants to see you.”   So, he went.  Even though his friend had tubes protruding from every possible place you could have them, he motioned to him that it was okay.  He talked to his friend and made peace with him.   He left the hospital, and an hour later his friend was dead. 

Coming home I was privileged to sit next to a guy who had three hot toddies starting at 10:30 in the morning.  Everyone is trying to be a paratrooper.  I said, “Really?  That’s the amateur hour.”   Then, to top it all off, I called the church office to see how things were going and learned that the visiting priest had been vomiting all Sunday night and Monday morning.  So Servpro came to the house and disinfected everything.  Never a dull moment.   On Friday afternoon, I drove from Charlotte back to Albemarle to take care of the mail and then drove to St. Luke’s in Mint Hill to hear confessions and drove back.  Otherwise, I’m really relaxed.

While I was hearing confessions at St. Luke’s, someone said, “I don’t go to Mass the way I should.”  Well, you can.  Nothing is stopping you.  The doors here are open.  In many ways, it comes down to poor teaching about what the Mass is.  The Mass is not a function.  It is the event that redeemed creation and opened Heaven up for us.  It gives us the means to get there by the sacrifice of Christ which is always before the Father and made present for us.  In some parishes, the Mass is treated like a performance.  They have these big screens that come down from the ceiling, and somebody is at the front of the church cheerleading.   I didn’t read that in Scripture about Calvary.  Did they have a cheerleader?   Maybe I’m wrong.  I may have been sick for a day or two while in seminary.   Some parishes have a practice before the Mass or they have a Mass that goes on and on – like the guy last week – and on.  You get no more salvation with a Mass that goes for an hour and a half than one that lasts for 13 minutes, which I have done several times because of extenuating circumstances. 

Why is missing Sunday Mass so bad?  The greatest sign of God’s love is made present on the altar on Sundays and every day, but Sunday is a holy day of obligation.  Our good Lord asks those who say they believe in Him to come and be a part of the greatest act of divine love the world has ever seen.  But people don’t show up.   This is a little vulgar, but it’s true – they give God the middle finger.  “I’m too busy.”  “I don’t like it.”  “I was there last week, and it’s just a rerun.”  “I went to Mass a lot in grade school.”  Really?   I drank a lot of water back then, and I still drink water.  So, they give God the middle finger and go about their business.  That’s all ego.  The true way to spirituality, as evidenced by people who get sober, clean, or slimmer or whatever 12-Step program they are in, is by humility or ego deflation.  Once humility is achieved, along with the other steps supporting it, you never have to drink or abuse drugs again.  Humility is one of God’s gifts and is the first step in spirituality.   Does God chuckle at my not eating bacon?  Maybe but doubtful.  But He wants to see what I do with the sacrifices made on my behalf.  He made such a great sacrifice Himself by sending His only Son to suffer and die.  What is my response to that love?  By complaining and crying that I can’t eat bacon or that I have to eat fish?  That’s a big one.  Did I tell you I hate fish?  Ego deflation is the key to spiritual life. 

“What a beautiful Mass, Father.”  Don’t judge the Mass . . . all Masses are beautiful.  The beauty comes in the person who is suffering in the Mass and that is Christ.  What is the Mass?  It is Christ and that is where the beauty comes from.  The only way to improve the Mass is not from the outside but from inside us.  That’s how we come to appreciate the Mass and not by judging it by our standards like ‘America’s Got Talent’ or thinking that our trip to Walmart is more important.  The key to the Mass is humility and realizing what we are and what the Mass is.  The humble say, “Speak Lord your servant is listening” and not “Listen Lord your servant is speaking.”

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.”  On a cell phone: click on “Blog” and then “Menu.”  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Categories.”  Sermon Notes are also available on the Church’s Facebook page at OLA.Catholic.Church.  Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”


Sermon Notes – April 14, 2024 – “There is Only One Truth”

“There is Only One Truth”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

April 13 – 14, 2024

Gospel: Luke 24:35-48

35 Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Him at the breaking of bread. 36 They were still talking about all this when He himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ 37 In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 But He said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts stirring in your hearts? 39 See by My hands and My feet that it is I Myself. Touch Me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ 40 And as He said this He showed them His hands and his feet. 41 Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, as they were dumbfounded; so He said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ 42 And they offered Him a piece of grilled fish, 43 which He took and ate before their eyes. 44 Then He told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, was destined to be fulfilled.’ 45 He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and He said to them, ‘So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that, in His name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses to this.

I looked this up: there are over 12,000 Protestant denominations. Protestants say they believe in Scripture; however, they must be reading different books than Catholics. God wants us to find our truth. Philosophically, there can be only one truth. There is one God and one truth. There is no different faith for Yankees than there is for people in Aquadale. There is not a different faith for people with different skin tones. We have only one faith and one truth. The Catholic Church teaches the truth.

I get these questions all the time. I see a group of Baptist guys on Mondays at Parkway House. They are good old boys, and I always go up and talk to them. Some of them will start quoting Scripture and ask if I am familiar with it. I feel like saying, “Dude, see this collar? I went to school and, believe it or not, I earned a master’s degree. I really did study, and I have a diploma to prove it.” So yeah, I think I know Scripture. I have people coming up to me all the time trying to prove me wrong. The Catholic Church wrote the Bible, so I know what it says and what it means. “Well, I don’t think it means that.” Do you argue with your doctor too? There is one truth. The Church teaches the truth, and we call that tradition. Truth is also contained outside of Scripture. In John’s gospel, he admitted that Scripture does not contain everything (John 21:25). So, we have the whole truth that the Church has taught from the beginning.

We have all sorts of people who have been “gifted” by the spirit, and they claim, “truth to power.” Uh-Huh. When someone uses that phrase, I always say, “I’ll get someone to check your meds because it sounds like you are on a real ego trip.” In the Catholic Church, those people have fallen by the wayside. They’ve all gone bye-bye. They say, “We have a new and better way. Christ told us so.” How’s that working out for you? Probably not really well. If we stick to what Christ said, we get what He promised: peace and joy in our souls, all the happiness that is possible in this life, and eternal life in the next. We have an inkling of what Heaven is like.

A lot of people say, “I don’t care what happens to my body; the body isn’t important.” Yes, it is. Our Lord said, “See by My hands and My feet that it is I Myself. Touch Me and see for yourselves.” At the end of time, we will have our bodies back . . . our souls will be reunited with our bodies. Nothing imperfect can be in the presence of God. There is only a temporary separation of our soul and body, so at the end of the world, we will receive our bodies back to serve our Lord and love Him. We will be reunited with our bodies and rejoice in Heaven. Hopefully, I won’t be eating fish! Please, Lord!! Although I am sure He will make me like it. This is our future. We will have our bodies back and not the weak and frail ones we have now, but bodies made perfect. We will be able to recognize each other in Heaven because the Apostles recognized our good Lord. If we do as we are told, that is our future. If not, let me know how that works out for you.

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.” On a cell phone: click on “Blog” and then “Menu.” Scroll to the bottom and click on “Categories.” Sermon Notes are also available on the Church’s Facebook page at OLA.Catholic.Church. Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”


Sermon Notes – April 7, 2024 – “You Must Be Willing to Try”

“You Must Be Willing to Try”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

April 6 – 7, 2024

Gospel: John 20: 19-31

When we go to Confession we are praying scripturally.  Now, this doesn’t happen very often, but I pray it happens to you because it will comfort and strengthen your faith.  We kneel and say, “Bless me Father for I have sinned.”  Our image of each other through the grate in the confessional is a bit hazy on purpose because I’m not supposed to recognize anyone.  In the hazy light, you may think that Father is growing a beard and has hair.  He has a certain glow about him, and he looks healthy because he doesn’t have that pale look he usually has.  Is that the father we know?”  Yes and no.  It’s my human body but you’ve been given the eyes of angels because you see Christ on the other side of that partition.  It is Christ who forgives sins.  It is Christ who hears your confession.  In His hand, He holds the chalice that is filled with His Precious Blood from His sacred wounds.  When He gives you absolution, He dips His hand into the chalice and anoints your soul with His Precious Blood for the remission of your sins.  As the Pentecostals say, “You’ve been washed in the blood.”  All your sins are forgiven and forgotten.  Your soul is infused with sanctifying and actual grace.  It is Christ who forgives your sins.  He uses my human nature just as our Good Lord heals you through the actions of good physicians and nurses.  This is one of the gifts He gives us and the fruits for which He sacrificed Himself so that we may have eternal life and forgiveness of our sins. 

I went to confession two weeks ago.  I do not ask you to do what I will not do myself.  Belief is proved by action.  Sometimes it is frightening to go to confession.   It can also be frightening to go to the doctor.  “Oh, my goodness!”   Going to the dentist can also be a really pleasant experience.  But why do we get nervous?  The doctors are going to do the best they can for you, reassure you, and make your life more pleasant.  That’s what I try to do on my hospital rounds.  It usually happens with drug addicts and alcoholics in the Emergency Room.  They are all nervous and upset.  I remember one man who served in Afghanistan as an Army first sergeant, and he was crying his eyes out.  He said, “You are going to throw me out of here!”  I said, “We don’t shoot our wounded.”  After that, I usually take out my business card and write my cell phone number on the back.   I tell them, “If you have a problem while you’re here, call me.  I know people.  If you have a problem, I’ll get it taken care of.”  In my 13 years at the VA Hospital, I’ve never had anyone call me. 

I always like it when people say, “We have scriptural beliefs.”  Really.  “We are a bible believing church!”  Really.  Scripture says that “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written” (John 2:30).  Not everything was written down.  After three years of ministry, if that’s all He did, He didn’t do much.  But the Word stayed with the Apostles which is called “tradition” and they taught it.  If you believe in Scripture, then go to Confession because He gave the power to the Apostles, bishops, and priests to absolve sin (John 20:21-23).  It says that in the black part of scripture not the white part. 

But we are all scared to go to Confession.  Why, I don’t know.  Actually, I do know.  It’s our pride.  Because you think that you are going to tell Christ, which is me acting in His person, something I haven’t heard before.  Very unlikely.  Moral Theology is a class we took before the Penance course at seminary, and it consisted of two very thick textbooks.  I’ve had people say, “Oh, I’ve committed every sin in the book!”  Okay, let’s see.  So, you married your first cousin and had relations with her?  “No, Father!  Okay, that’s one chapter from the textbook gone.  Did you fool around with animals?  “No!”  Okay, that’s another chapter gone.  The textbooks are getting thinner and thinner as we talk.   My point is that you are not going to surprise me.  It’s like when I go into hospital rooms and patients pull their bed sheets up around their chins.  I wish they all did that, but I tell them that I’ve seen more body parts than they will ever have. Occasionally, I have to say that to the Spanish because some of them wear very low-cut dresses.  Cover up!  I’ve seen more than that in the hospital. 

We have to say what we are sorry for as best as we can.  I cannot prescribe something for that which I don’t know about.  Doctors would never prescribe anyone pain medicine who said, “Oh, I have a terrible headache!  I need some oxycontin.”  The doctor is not going to say, “No problem, and I’ll make the prescription refillable too.”  Nope.  That would never happen.  If they did that, they would be over at FU (Felon University), and I’d be visiting them there.  In fact, I met a PA (physician’s assistant) at FU who was there for doing that same kind of funny stuff.  The physician may want to take a little peek because the problem could be sinuses, or it could be a brain tumor.  It’s the same with spiritual life.  The medicine I prescribe for your soul will depend on what I know.  The one thing priests cannot forgive is people who live in an objective state of sin.  For example, they have a bad marriage, or they are in a relationship that they are unwilling to leave or even try.   If you are unwilling to try, I cannot help you.  “Hey, I’ll give you cancer treatments if you’ll stop smoking.”  “But I don’t want to stop smoking.”   My older brother did that.  He had Hepatitis C, and the doctor said that he could cure it if he stopped drinking.   My brother said, “Nope,” and he did not have a good outcome.  We are all sinners, but you have to be willing to try. 

I do this all the time at the VA Hospital for patients who are getting a celestial discharge.  I don’t ask if I can give them Last Rites.  Instead, I say, “I’m going to give you Last Rites, okay?”  They usually say, “Yes.  Thank you, Father.”  Then I will ask, “When was the last time you went to Confession?”  I never ask if they would like to go to Confession.   When I ask them about the last time they went to Confession, I say it in a command-like tone, and that snaps them right back to their military days and they tell me.  Then I ask, “What are your sins?”  Of course, half of them can’t remember because they are usually sedated.  So, I say, “Key question: Are you sorry for all of your sins, those you remember and those you don’t?”   “Yes.”  Right answer, and I absolve them of their sins. 

There are two types of sorrow – perfect and imperfect contrition.  Perfect sorrow or contrition is when you are sorry for hurting the one you love.  You are sorry for offending them because you love them, and they are worthy of all your love as God Almighty is.  Imperfect contrition is when you are sorry because you got caught.  Ask a police officer how many people cry right before they get a ticket.  “I didn’t know!”   Well, here is a ticket as a reminder.  Imperfect contrition is sufficient. 

Remember, just because you don’t see Christ while in the confessional as I act in His person, doesn’t mean He’s not there.  Likewise, just because you don’t see law enforcement officers on Highway 52 while driving to Salisbury doesn’t mean they aren’t 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.”  On a cell phone: click on “Blog” and then “Menu.”  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Categories.”  Sermon Notes are also available on the Church’s Facebook page at OLA.Catholic.Church.  Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”


Sermon Notes – March 24, 2024 – “The Sound and Smell of Love”

“The Sound and Smell of Love”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

March 23 – 24, 2024

Gospel: Mark 14:1 – 15:47

We have a young man in our parish who is in his fourth week at Paris Island, and you know, I may be enjoying it a bit too much!  “Oh, Father, it’s so hard there!”  No, not really.  It’s unpleasant, but it’s not that hard.  Your worst day at Paris Island is infinitely better than your best day in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan.  It’s not that bad.  You won’t get hurt unless you do something extremely stupid.  However, never underestimate the power of people to be stupid.  We can become, what one writer says, overly sensitive, which is a grave character defect.  We are sensitive about some things but not sensitive about others.  I get these emails at the Veterans Hospital (VA) about proper pronoun usage.  “Oh!  You called me by the wrong pronoun!”   Well, I thought ‘jerk’ fit you pretty well.  Do you know what I’ve been called in my life?  In the military anything soldiers said that was prefaced with ‘sir’ and that ended with ‘sir’ was appropriate, and I would take it.  “Sir, you are a bleeping idiot, Sir.”  Understood.  Very good.  Carry on. 

“Oh, oh, the opera of anxiety!”  Really?  All that drama with the psychiatric condition you have.   Really?   We are highly sensitive about the wrong things.   Today you heard a short recitation of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.   For the Roman soldiers, this was just another day at the office.  They did this all the time.  They were trained professionals, just ask Saint John.  There was nothing special about Jesus’ death except that the Roman soldiers recognized it at the end.  Until then, Jesus was just another schmuck who had been sentenced to death, and they were just doing their job.  They did three that day; it wasn’t a big deal.  But we are here, and we are sensitive to His Passion. 

Now, I’m old, and I’m lucky to be so because a lot of people have wanted to kill me during my life and not just my family.   Go to YouTube and watch “Jesus Christ Superstar.”  One part of the story is about Pilot counting the lashes that were inflicted on our Lord during the scourging at the pillar.   One thing about lashing – when you are hit with a belt, it stings.  However, the Romans used a flagellum that had nail spikes attached to each cord which would dig into and rip away the flesh.  As a result, the wounds would not coagulate with the blood, so the bleeding would continue.  Eventually, you would die of suffocation because you lacked the strength to hold yourself upright.  That was one of the things the Romans inflicted upon people, and it was not a fun way to go.  That is suffering.  It’s not when someone hurts our feelings, “Oh, my goodness!  I’m so hurt!  They didn’t call me by my proper pronoun!”  Grow up!   You have no idea about hurt and about pain.  If you read the Passion, and I especially like ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, you get an idea of what happened and begin to understand the pain that Christ endured.  After our Lord’s Passion, we cannot say, “My sin only hurts me.  I don’t hurt anyone else, just me.”  Uh no.  “I have no sin.”  Then you don’t need to come to church.  Don’t anybody start running for the doors! 

Love has a sound.  Think about the Passion and meditate on it.  The sound of love is the drip, drip, drip of blood that flowed from the sacred wounds of our Lord on the Cross and onto the ground.   That is the sound of love being poured out for us.  Mary was the first one to be washed in the blood.  Love also has a smell.  It is the smell of blood.  At our Lord’s Passion, they smelled, they heard, and they saw divine love.  This is the price of sin that we try to minimize so much.  Not only the white lies – the color coded sins which I never studied – but any sin.  This is how much God loves us. 

Look at the Passion, and you will see the price of love.  All that misery translates into what we need . . . His love for us, and the love to restore us to God’s friendship.  Do you have any idea of the agony He endured?  The Romans were pretty good at their jobs and intentionally prolonged death.  Think about the agony our good Lord endured when He didn’t have to, but He did so out of love for us.  Look at the Crucifix and that is how much God loves us.  It’s what our sins have caused.  That’s the price of sin that our Lord paid for us because we could not.  Think about how much we have taken for granted the depth of our sins and the magnitude of His love. 

How will you apply this message to your life?_________________________________________

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” then “Sermon Notes.”  On a cell phone: click on “Blog” and then “Menu.”  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Categories.”  Sermon Notes are also available on the Church’s Facebook page at ola.catholic.church.  Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”



Sermon Notes – March 17, 2024 – “We Want What We Want When We Want It”

“We Want What We Want When We Want It”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

March 16 – 17, 2024

Gospel: John  12:20-33

Our Good Lord said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24).  He calls us to be grains of wheat.  But why must we die?  I’m glad you are interested, otherwise the sermon would be over.  It’s so that we may bring forth life.  The means to do it is really easy; it’s right in front of us.  Keep the Commandments.  By keeping the Commandments, we die to ourselves.  Dying to ourselves is the resignation of the will.  De-egotazation is the basis of every 12-Step group.  De-egotazation steps are the keys to recovering from whatever addictions people have.  However, it’s not just obeying the Commandments – there are more than 10, and those 10 have a lot of other things in them.   

There are two ways in which to obey the Commandments.  One way is objectively by obeying the law.  For example, if you are driving to Misenheimer you will go through Richfield.  Near the VFW, there is usually a highway patrol officer or deputy sheriff sitting there.   So, you reduce your speed, and once the coast is clear, you kick your speed back up to 65.  But when you get to the university, you slow back down in case a Misenheimer police officer is hiding behind the bushes.  Once you are on the other side of the university, you floor it again to Salisbury.  When you don’t want to get into trouble or get caught, that is objective obedience.   But that is only the beginning of de-egotazation. 

People say, “We are studying scripture.  What do you think this means?”  Every time our Lord asked the Apostles a question, they always got it wrong.  Peter got it right once, but Jesus said, “My heavenly Father revealed it to you” (Matthew 16:13-19).  So, we cannot say we know what ‘this’ means.  Jesus said only male and female were created and for that reason, a man and a woman shall leave their families and the two shall be as one.   During the first week in Latin class, we learned the words male and female.  It’s really easy!  Yet now, in principle, people say, “Well, I think that means this, and we can change it.”  No!  He said it.  That’s like telling Christ, “You were wrong.”  How is that for ego?  “You were wrong.”   Really? 

The second part of obedience is when you truly die to self.  Spiritual growth really takes over with interior ascent.  This is not just the objective obedience of simply following the law but the interior ascent.  “I do it because of my love of the Lord.  I resign my will to Him.”  That is the hardest part of all.  Soon, I will have been a priest for 40 years, and because I can take tests, I’ve got some letters after my name and some titles before it.  I’m a really big guy.  Sometimes the bishop will say, “I want this done.”  Are you kidding me?  Granted, his Excellency has more information than I do.  But sometimes I think, “Is he telling me how to do my job?”   That is the ego speaking.  It’s like pastors who don’t take suggestions or even listen to people.    Look at the history of this place, and you realize that previous pastors never took any advice from anybody.  That’s why we have had to fix everything in the past few years – because they built it wrong.  They wouldn’t listen. 

Subjective obedience is the most difficult because it’s when we truly die to self.  The first one, the objective part, is tough enough.  I can handle driving 65 in a 55 . . . I really can.  However, in North Carolina, law enforcement can give you a ticket for driving 56 in a 55.  I don’t think a judge would hear it, but according to the law, there is no grey area.  It’s the ego – not just the objective ego but also the subjective.  And that is the hardest part of dying to oneself.  The objective is hard enough, but the subjective is worse.   That’s where real spiritual growth exists. 

We bristle at rules.  “Oh, the Church has too many rules!”  Well, flying has a lot of rules too.  I suggest you follow them, otherwise we will be coming by with a squeegee to clean up your body parts.  There are a lot of rules in a lot of things.  Pharmacology has a lot of rules.  Trying it on your own usually doesn’t work out well.  Rules are there to keep us from doing stupid stuff.  They are there to warn us that something will hurt really bad, and we won’t be able to fix it on this Earth.  Rules are there to keep us safe and to point us in the right direction.  But we don’t like the rules because of our egos.  I want what I want when I want it!  Our daily dying to self: “Yes, Lord.  I will try to do what you ask of me not only because it’s for my own good, but it will also enable me to love You even more.” 


How will you apply this message to your life?_________________________________________

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” then “Sermon Notes.”  On a cell phone: click on “Blog” and then “Menu.”  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Categories.”  Sermon Notes are also available on the Church’s Facebook page at ola.catholic.church.  Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”


Sermon Notes – March 3, 2024 – “The Mass is Not a Celebration”

“The Mass is Not a Celebration”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

March 2 – 3, 2024

Gospel: John 2: 13-25

13 When the time of the Jewish Passover was near Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14 and in the Temple He found people selling cattle and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting there. 15 Making a whip out of cord, He drove them all out of the Temple, sheep and cattle as well, scattered the money changers’ coins, knocked their tables over 16 and said to the dove sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop using My Father’s house as a market.’ 17 Then His disciples remembered the words of scripture: I am eaten up with zeal for Your house. 8 The Jews intervened and said, ‘What sign can You show us that You should act like this?’ 19 Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20 The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple: are you going to raise it up again in three days?’ 21 But He was speaking of the Temple that was His Body, 22 and when Jesus rose from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this, and they believed the scripture and what He had said. 23 During His stay in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover many believed in His name when they saw the signs that He did, 24 but Jesus knew all people and did not trust Himself to them; 25 He never needed evidence about anyone; He could tell what someone had within.

One of today’s readings is from the Old Testament, and I was reminded of this one gentleman I was helping prepare for death.  We were going through the General Confession and when we got to the Fifth Commandment, I asked him, “Have you ever killed anybody?”  He said, “That didn’t need killing?”  Okay!  He’s got a point.  I forgot that he had worked in Special Operations.   The correct translation of the Fifth Commandment is that “You shall not take a life unjustly.”  You have the right to protect yourself and others if someone is about to be killed.  In fact, you have a moral obligation to protect yourself and others.   “But He said, ‘Do not kill.”  No, no, no.  He said, “Do not take a life unjustly.” 

Today’s Gospel says that there were sheep and oxen in the church.  I’m thinking that Abigail who cleans the church is lucky we don’t have sheep and oxen.   She’s got enough to deal with already.  You would be shocked at the stuff people leave in the pews like fingernail clippings, dirty Kleenexes, and the worst of all – sparkles from dresses.   Sometimes she has to wear a hazmat suit to clean the church.  This church is just as precious as the temple.  Where you are sitting, like God told Moses, is a holy temple because it contains the very presence of our Lord – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  Here we have presented the Holy Sacrifice of Christ which is always before the Father in Heaven pleading on our behalf.  His holy sacrifice is made present during the Mass.  That is why we ask for reverence and silence.   I’ve been trained by professionals in hurting people’s feelings.  Because of how sacred this is, if someone walks away with the Eucharist, I will stop them and embarrass them if I have to.  I vowed to protect the Blessed Sacrament with my life.  It’s one of those vows we take that most people don’t know about.  That’s how holy this is.  

When I was a young priest, people wanted to celebrate Catholic Schools Week during the Mass to which I said, “On its face, that’s blasphemous and at its worst heretical.”  We don’t celebrate anything at the Mass.  “Woohoo!  We’re celebrating somebody’s life!”   It’s not a party followed by dinner, and with my family, the police would show up after that.  The Mass is the prayer of Christ.  During Catholic School Week they would bring up books and basketballs.  No – no – no.  Did you see that at the foot of the Cross?  No.  Did you see that at the Last Supper?  No.  So, they are not a part of it. 

Nobody but the servers and I should be inside the altar area.  None of the junk from Hobby Lobby should be inside the altar area.  This is a sacred spot, and nobody but the sacristans and the priest are supposed to be here.  Nobody but the sacristans and the priest are supposed to touch the Sacred Vessel.  That’s how sacred this is.  The Mass is not a high school play where everyone runs around doing stuff.  That is foreign to our tradition.   In documents on the liturgy, someone said, “The faithful could participate in the Mass where each fulfills their proper role.”   That is correct to a point.  Your proper role is to offer yourself to the priest who functions In persona Christi (in the person of Christ) and to be emulated on the altar in the sacrifice.  It is not your role to run up and down the aisles doing stuff.  No.  Nada.  I have had Mass in a lot of different places, and we didn’t have all that.  Know what?  It worked just as well. 

Some of the Masses have been interesting.  I was doing a Mass at the hospital and one of the vets who was under-medicated said, “I’m a saint.”  Not yet, but soon!  Another vet said, “My wife died.  I’m going to be a priest.”  Alright.  I’ll write a letter for you.  You have to be flexible when you are offering Mass in hospitals and nursing homes.  Active participation doesn’t call for physical participation.  Active participation is interior participation . . . it’s the sacrifice.  When I say Mass at nursing homes, most of the people are snoring.  Are they actively participating?  Yes, interiorly.   Maybe not exteriorly.  Active participation is interior devotion. 

Saint Pierre-Julien Eymard wrote a wonderful series of books on the Eucharist.  His books were filled with such beautiful meditations on the Eucharist and our Lord’s presence at the Mass.  Saint Eymard wrote about there being four elements of the Mass; however, I remember five elements:  adoration, worship, petition, expiation, and thanksgiving.  Those are the elements of the Mass, and that is what we do here.  Adoration before God, worship, expiation, sacrifices offered for forgiveness of our sins, petition – asking for forgiveness of our sins, and thanksgiving which is probably the most overlooked one.  The Mass is not our prayer; it is the prayer of Christ.  Each of us, according to our vocation, can be made part of that sacrifice.  I, as the priest, become In persona Christi (in the person of Christ) and offer the sacrifice.  You, as the people of God, become part of the sacrifice just like the Blessed Mother, Mary of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and John the Apostle.

This is why we don’t change things like having eulogies at funerals.  There are no eulogies in the Mass.  None at all.  Ah-Ah-Ah.  Not allowed.  The Mass is a prayer of Christ.  This place is sacred.  When you go to the cemetery in Salisbury near the hospital, it’s all on camera.  So, if you start doing something stupid, you are going to meet a couple of big guys with a gun and a badge.  They are not going to be amused because that place is sacred.  The bodies of heroes and heroines are buried there, and they are not amused with people acting stupid.  So, if we can be so particular about behavior in a cemetery, how about during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?  People are in the very presence of God Himself in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  This is our faith.  That’s why you are all here, and it’s why so many others come to Mass and behave with such devotion.  It’s inspiring to me.  This is God’s house, and we are all His children.  We have a lot of non-Catholics here, and they are God’s children.  They belong here.  This is God’s house, and you are all His children. 

How will you apply this message to your life? ________________________________________

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” then “Sermon Notes.”  On a cell phone: click on “Blog” and then “Menu.”  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Categories.”  Sermon Notes are also available on the Church’s Facebook page at ola.catholic.church.  Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”



Sermon Notes – February 25, 2024 – “A Glimpse of Heaven”

“A Glimpse of Heaven”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

February 24 – 25, 2024

Gospel: Mark 9:2-10


2) After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, 3) and His clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. 4) Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. 5) Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  6) He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.  7) Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.”  8) Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.  9) As they were coming down from the mountain, He charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.    10) So, they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

We learn what Heaven is like by the transfigurations in the Gospel.  I could preach for hours on that subject.  Would you like me to preach for hours?  Before you respond, the pious answer is “Yes, Father.”   But I know what you are really thinking: “Come on old man.  I’m starving here!”  So, what is Heaven like?  Heaven is being in the presence of Jesus.  It’s not a place.  It’s a Who.  It is the presence of God.  Moses and Elijah were in the presence of God.  They talked about what would happen in the future, so they had knowledge of the future.  Remember that in Heaven everything is in the present.  God is always in the present because He is not subject to His own creation of time, the past, or the future.   Everything is present to God at once.  All time is present.   

How did the Apostles know they were talking to Moses and Elijah?  There was no Facebook back then.  There were no cameras or photographs.  So, like Moses and Elijah, their minds had been enlightened by a gift from God.  They knew Moses and Elijah.  They knew they were talking to Jesus.  So, what does that tell us about death?   It tells us there is forgiveness after death.  What did God say to Moses after he struck the rock three times?  “Because you did not believe in me. . . therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Num. 20:6-13).   Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, but where was he that day?  He was in the Promised Land.  So, there is forgiveness after death. 

Purgatory is the full expression of God’s love and mercy.  The Apostles wanted this joy to continue; however, Heaven is later and not here on Earth no matter what any bishop or Church deacon tells you.  “If we have just one more collection or one more ministry, we’ll have Heaven on Earth, and everybody will be happy.”  No.  We will never have Heaven on Earth.  That’s akin to a government official saying, “If we pass these great budgets and everything else, we’ll be all set, and everybody will be happy.”  Ahh, no.  You won’t have Heaven on Earth.  Heaven comes later.  If we are holy, we will have as much happiness as possible in this life.  However, full happiness does not come until we are with our Savior forever. 

Holiness has its own crosses.  Bishop Sheen had a television show.  He was a handsome man, eloquent, learned, and gave a great presentation.   Do you know what his daily diet consisted of?  Boiled chicken, graham crackers, and milk.  His stomach was that bad, but nobody knew.  Saint Theresa of Calcutta experienced “interior darkness,” but she was joyous.  Never mind all the crosses Saint John Paul II had as the Holy Father, but he was also shot.  Doctors say that the blood transfusions he received caused his Parkinson’s disease.  However, he suffered joyously for the salvation of souls.  One story about the Holy Father . . . he was a huge lover of classical music.  So, they had a world-renowned orchestra come in with some of the best maestros in the world.  After they finished playing one of his favorite pieces, the maestro turned around to look at the Holy Father and hoped that he liked it.  “Please like it!”  His Holiness was shaking and drooling because of his Parkinsons, but he gave the maestro a thumbs-up. 

Ten days before the Passion, God gave Peter, James, and John the great gift of consolation to prepare them for the scandal of the Cross.   God has given us consolation many, many times to help us endure our sufferings.  Consolations are a glimpse of Heaven.  Some consolations He gives us before we have great trials and some after.  And some just because God likes to give them to us because He loves us.  During that time when we are experiencing great trials and suffering, we don’t experience the consolation of Christ.  That’s hogwash.  “Oh!  I’m struggling!  My goodness!”  Grow up!  Just because we don’t feel the consolation of God and His presence, doesn’t mean He isn’t with us.  You cannot prove a positive with a negative. 

This is our opportunity to respond to His great gifts with acts of faith, hope, and love knowing that He is always with us.  Our guardian angel is always with us.  Mine is tired.  Just because we don’t feel consolation doesn’t mean anything.  This, indeed, might be a chance for us to console God.  How many of us have sinned so grievously against Him and don’t care?  We do not enjoy the times between consolations.  I would love to have them all the time.  But that’s not reality, and it’s the danger of a lot of spiritual programs.  “Pray this way while holding your mouth just right and standing on one foot, and you will receive consolation every time you pray.”  But that’s not true at all.  Look at Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  God is never, ever away from us.  Between consolations, we make our act of faith that God is with us; our act of hope that He will bring us safely through our trials; and our act of love by turning our trials into acts of love for others.

How will you apply this message to your life?_____________________________________

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” then “Sermon Notes.”  On a cell phone: click on “Blog” and then “Menu.”  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Categories.”  Sermon Notes are also available on the Church’s Facebook page at ola.catholic.church.  Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”


Sermon Notes – February 18, 2024 – “Someday Tomorrow Will Begin Without Us”

“Someday Tomorrow Will Begin Without Us”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

February 17 – 18, 2024

Gospel: Mark 1:12-15

Occasionally and according to my physician’s wishes, I have to go to the local pharmacy to get prescriptions filled.  They always ask for my date of birth.  I say, “It’s 7-11-53, and yes, I’m on the waiting list for Hartsell’s Funeral Home.”  They all laugh.  But it’s true.  Now I’m not much, but my two brothers were geniuses, and both had Mensa cards to prove it.  The cards each cost $500.  You paid $500 for a card?  I’m smarter than them . . . I’m going to save 500 bucks!   But I can read a calendar, and I watch the pages turn.  I know my time with you on this Earth is limited.  So, I try to use the time that God has given me to improve what teachers used to call my permanent record.   Remember that?  “This is going on your permanent record!”  Where the heck is this so-called permanent record?   But God sees all.  The Season of Lent is the time for us to work on our permanent records because we don’t know when our time will come.  Many people who have been given a terminal diagnosis outlive the prognosis.   Some live way beyond it and others even get discharged from hospice – not a celestial discharge – they go home.   So, we don’t know.  But someday, tomorrow will begin without us.   I am very fortunate to have made it this far because I traveled with a rough crowd.  I didn’t know any better – yes, I did. 

On the day that begins without me, I will see my Savior come to take my soul from this world to Himself.   So, I would like for my soul to be as beautiful as it was when He first gave it to me.  To that point, especially during this Season of Lent, I try to refresh my soul and make it beautiful again and unmarred by my sins and the sins of others.  I do that with prayer, almsgiving, penance, practicing the Sacraments, and confession.  I went 10 days ago.  I don’t ask you to do something that I haven’t done.  His coming for us should make us happy.  You all love God because you are here.  I’ve been here long enough to know the magnitude of your love and generosity to God and His people.   All the improvements to the church happened because of you.  That’s all you.  Grow in that love so you will not be afraid when God comes to take you home.   

I was over at the criminal university (prison) the other day, and I talked about almsgiving to my felons.  Of course, they don’t have wallets because they have no money, and they are limited as to what they can do outside.  They are monitored and rightly so.   So, they looked at me like I was stupid and said, “What can we do?”  There is plenty you can sacrifice.  Just think about what you are going to eat tonight.  Square fish.  They call it sewer bass and sewer trout.  I swear I can smell it from the parking lot.  I thought the gas chamber was bad, but that’s just not fair!  Some of the ladies who work there said, “Yeah, we can tell when any of the women are pregnant because they smell that and go bleagh!”   Breakfast is at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning.  “But I like to sleep in.”  Not anymore.  The State does have a sense of humor.  You can offer that up and all the other irritations you endure.  You know, some folks in this institution are not as nice as you.   Offer it up as almsgiving because that is what you have.  Give what you have. 

Tax season is coming soon, and we must tell the Federal Government how much we made which could be true or maybe not depending on whether an Italian did your taxes.  Some of us were blessed with great finances and have been very good to the church and charities.  This is not an appeal for money.  I don’t do that.  That is why there’s no collection on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  There are no second collections, period.   I know that not everyone is well off and has obligations.  I know very well, especially in my own life and I’m no different than you – well, you are better looking, I’ll give you that – but I know that we all have crosses.  Many crosses.  Heavy crosses.  And they hurt.  They frustrate. They irritate.  But they can all be used for good not only to mortify our souls to keep us humble but also to be offered for someone else.  Saint Paul said, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church” (Col 1:24).

You can go in and pay someone’s court fines.  The court doesn’t care as long as you have the cash.  Likewise, you can pay for other people’s sins by your own sufferings.  You can pay for the sins of your family, friends, souls in Purgatory, and especially for those who do not like you.  They may not have anyone to pray for them.  This is how wonderfully rich we all are.   This is the almsgiving that we can all give, that we are rich in and that we can give up for others.  We are all rich.  All that suffering that we bear can be offered up for others.  Use those riches God has given us wisely while we have time for an interior beauty treatment.  Scripture tells us that giving alms covers a multitude of sins.  By giving alms, we refresh the soul and make it beautiful.  Through penance, confession, prayer, the Sacraments, and almsgiving we can begin to restore our soul to its original beauty when Christ gave it to us.  This is so that when Christ comes for us whether it is tomorrow or many years from now, and I hope it is many years from now, we can run to Him with our arms around Him and His around us and be in paradise forever. 

Father’s Reflections . . . To the child in the audience who wants her mother – I felt the same way when I received my draft notice.  Mom!! 

I may have gotten a compliment the other day.  One of the nurse practitioners at Hospice said, “Father, you should have gone to medical school.”   Thank you!  That was very nice.  As I walked away a thought occurred to me.  Did she mean as a student or a cadaver?  Either way, I get to take the Gross Anatomy class, and it really is gross.

How will you apply this message to your life?______________________________________

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” then “Sermon Notes.”  On a cell phone: click on “Blog” and then “Menu.”  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Categories.”  Sermon Notes are also available on the Church’s Facebook page at ola.catholic.church.  Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”


Sermon Notes – February 11, 2024 – “Forget as God Forgets”

“Forget as God Forgets”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

February 10 – 11, 2024

Gospel: Mark 1:40-45

Today’s reading is from the Old Testament in the book of Leviticus, and it’s about leprosy.  Anyone who had leprosy was required to shout, “Unclean, unclean!”  This reminded me of the pandemic a couple of years ago when people got hyped up if someone contracted the disease, “Covid, Covid!”  It is not terminal.   

I’m going to give you some philosophical continuing credit.  What is a primary virtue?  The primary virtue is justice.  Why justice?  Because justice is the virtue that orders all the other virtues to their necessary and proper end which is Almighty God.  So, when we are talking about the budget and how we have billions and billions of dollars to allocate, we are talking about real money.  “We’ll allocate this much here and this much there.”  Now think about justice.  I, Stump, and many others in the parish are combat veterans.  We don’t get free medical care, and I even retired from the Army.  Un-uh Un-uh Un-uh.   If I tried to get a benefit, I’d have to prove it was connected to my Army service.  It’s easier to go before the Supreme Court than it is to get the VA to recognize a disability due to military service.  So, we don’t give justice to our military service members, but we are giving away billions and billions of dollars to people who enter the United States illegally.   But those of us who are citizens not so much.

One thing in the spiritual life that most of us don’t think about is that we are called to be like God in all things.  That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?  But that would be tough because God is perfection of all attributes and virtues.  That would be kind of difficult for us to attain.  But we try.  There is one aspect of our lives which is very important for us to concentrate on and that is our memory.  Now I don’t mean you have to remember every password on every device you own.  The memory of a spiritual person needs to be both good and bad.  “Okay Father, explain that.”  I’m glad you asked.  Your memory has to be bad like God’s memory is bad.  “How is God’s memory bad?”  Well, He says in the Old Testament, “I will put your sins behind you.  Your sins are remembered no more” (Ezekiel 18:22).  So, God forgives and forgets.  We are called to forget our sins that have been forgiven and to let them go.  And, to not remember the sins that others may or may not have committed against us just like God does. 

We also need a perfect memory so that we can remember the love and mercy God has shown us by forgiving our sins, giving us the gift of His very Self in the Sacraments, and the promise of eternal life.  We are called to show that same mercy and love to His people.  A perfect memory manifests itself in the Prayers of Thanksgiving.  Be grateful for what you have.  My theme for Lent this year is, “Someday, tomorrow will begin without us.”   The other morning, I was hearing first confessions from children at Saint Luke’s.  They are so young, so I don’t make them spend a lot of time in the confessional.  A lot of them said that they had hurt their parents, brothers, and sisters.  I told them, “Remember, your time with them is so small.  Cherish the time you have with them, because you will miss that time when they are gone.  They may be difficult at times, and if you had a brother like mine, you would understand that.  If you had a brother like me, you would also understand.  But cherish them as God cherishes us.”

God promises to be with us as long as we don’t throw Him out of our souls through mortal sins or repeated venial sins.  We have our Lord’s protection, and we get pretty upset if something happens to us that we didn’t expect, and it ruins our plans.   Saint Teresa of Avila said to our Lord, “If this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder why You have so few of them!”  But we will never know how much evil God has protected us from for ourselves, our families, and our loved ones.  We will never know until we see Him face-to-face when all things will be made present and known.  We do not know but God does.  Just think of the things you have been protected from, and you haven’t died yet, have you?   A lot of my classmates did not reach my age nor did my twin brother.   I always thought I’d be the first to go because I’ve been to some bad places.  To my own credit, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  We do not know the threats God has protected us from, how much love He has given us, and the gifts He has given us as a result of our prayers.  Perhaps they were not the ones we asked for but were better ones.  This is how we must work on our memory.  The most important part of a bad memory is forgetting oneself for the love of God.  We must forget ourselves.  Our Lord said, “Leave everything behind and come follow Me.”  The most important thing in spiritual life is memory.

How will you apply this message to your life __________________________________________

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