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In every age Christians have been challenged to stand up for what they believe. I would like to share with you the story of a little-known Saint. His name is Gaspar del Bufalo. It was 1810. He was only 24 years old, and had been ordained a priest just a short time. But now he was under arrest. Napoleon had conquered Rome and had imprisoned the pope. His intention was to close the churches and to force all the priests to swear allegiance to him.

So there Gaspar stood in front of the prefect. The prefect was a kind old gentleman, who did everything to minimize the event, downplaying it and reducing everything to a mere formality. It was just a harmless bureaucratic exercise.

The important thing was that Gaspar be put at ease, that he should not realize the seriousness of the choice to which he was being called. After all, many priests had already acquiesced and signed the oath of allegiance.

But Gaspar was not listening to the prefect, he was thinking of the blood which Napoleon had already caused to be shed. He was thinking of the imprisonment of the Holy Father, and he was thinking of the violation of liberty and the suppression of independence for the church.

So his response to the prefect was clear and decisive:

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Just 200 years later, It is a different country and it is a different government. This time it is an American President. He has taken it upon himself to determine what is and is not religious. He has taken it upon himself to determine how I should live my faith in this time and in this place. Should I acquiesce to his demands?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

The world health organization classifies oral contraceptives as a class one carcinogen right up there with tobacco. And the government wants me to provide this free with healthcare.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Women who use oral contraceptives for four years prior to their first full-term pregnancy have a 52% increased risk of developing breast cancer. And the government calls this health care and wants me to provide this for free, well...

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Oral contraceptives do horrific damage to a woman's body, and should we call this health-care? Abortion destroys human life and is it reasonable or intelligent for us to call that healthcare?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

The president proposed a compromise that would allow insurance companies to pay for the contraceptives rather than the church institution. My question, what if I belong to a church institution that is self-insured? I would then be required to pay for this.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

What if I'm a Catholic business person who is required by my government to provide insurance that violates my conscience?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

What will it be next and who will it be next? The New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled that it is illegal for a photography business owned by Christians to refuse to photograph a same-sex wedding ceremony even though New Mexico law does not permit same-sex marriage. What will they say next? Will they say that it is illegal for me to refuse to do a same-sex marriage. Would we as Catholics allow the state to change one of our sacraments.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Saint Gaspar del Bufalo spent four years in prison for his profession of faith. We must pray too, that we have the strength to be firm in our faith.

We are not imposing our values on anyone. The government has dictated that employees at Catholic institutions are provided with free contraception, and that is the imposition on our faith and on our conscience. The government doesn't want so much to advance the cause of women's health, but rather, they seek to demonize a faith group that has the "audacity of hope," that they might live their faith free from government interference and intrusion.

I know it is just a mere formality, just a harmless bureaucratic exercise. I know that the important thing is that we should not realize the seriousness of the choice to which we are being called. After all everybody else is doing it. But let me be perfectly clear:

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

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Mission Memories

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It is good to be home, yet I have some great memories of a recently concluded mission at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Camas, WA. The devotion of the people, the experience of perpetual adoration at the Parish, the choir and the people and the singing of the ordinary and most of the proper in Latin, and the Servers. I initially wondered what seven servers would be doing, but they all had something to do, they did it with military precision and a sense of devotion that was palpable.

There were five talks which I gave each morning and then repeated in the evening. Each Mission presentation was concluded with Confessions and there were many. It is a great parish. It was a joy to visit and they have much to be proud of.

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On Retreat

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I will be away for awhile, preaching a retreat for some Carmelite Hermits. I must say that this is probably the most unique invitation I have ever received. They have asked that the focus be on the Eucharist. They will probably get a heavy dose of a saint they have never heard of before, St. Gaspar del Bufalo, but I also made a point to include a pit of John of the Cross in the reflections.

The topics for the week will be as follows:

1.John and Cana
2.Paul and Precious Blood
3.Luke, Prodigal Sons and Fatted Calves
4.Matthew, Multiplication of the Loaves
5.Emmaus and the Liturgy
6.Intimacy an the Eucharist, John of the Cross, Song of Songs, Book of Revelation
7.Holy Thursday
8.Good Friday
9.Holy Saturday
10.The Easter Mystery

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Prayers please!

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...for all the couples who are on the Retrouvaille weekends this weekend.

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"everything in the liturgy on Friday has been reviewed and blessed by the Bishop's office."

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It's official. I was sent the plans for the opening and closing liturgies for the ICM. The opening hymn for the Opening Liturgy is a Haugen Classic that is all about us. It might be about the effect that God has on the Almighty US, but it is not about God or addressed to God.

The Closing Liturgy begins with some outright heresy. I am not trying to judge Hanh or Buddhists. They have a certain dignity and right to their beliefs. This, however has no place in the Liturgy.

From the writings of Thick Nhat Hanh:
“Our true home is in the present moment,
To live in the present moment is a miracle.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment,
To appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.
Peace is all around us-
In the world and in nature-
And within us-
In our bodies and our spirits.
Once we learn to touch this peace,
We will be healed and transformed.”

Just for beginners, our true home is in heaven. And the walking on water was a significant moment revealing that Jesus is God. In this liturgy, however, we are invited to find truth within, and so are invited to deny or ignore the revealed living Word that is Jesus the Christ, the living Son of God.

Oh, that's right, it is is Sunday liturgy. I will have to go look and see if they included the Creed.

[UPDATE] The Creed is part of the liturgy plan, and the Hanh quote has just been added to my homily.

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Retrouvaille ICM

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I will be a way for a few days at the Incernational Council Meeting for Retrouvaille.

I may get an opportunity to blog from the Hotel, but it will be very busy. Pray for me as I have to endure (must be time for penance) a modern liturgy prepared by some expert liturgists. These have been pretty delightful conventions but I have always found the liturgy dreadful, especially the ones where I am the presider.

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On the Road

| St. Louis. I will be back on Thursday night. Computer is staying home, so no email. It is a PBLC-HRI meeting.

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It seems that preaching a mission in Ohio means an introduction to the Sports culture of the Midwest. Everytime I have preached a mission in Ohio, the local team has won a state championship.

Last year it was the Girls basketball team.

This year it seems that the boys team is on their way. Last Night they won the regional championship game and now are on their way to the State semi-finals.

The first time I preached a mission in Ohio was back in '93 in Girard, OH. The mission started on the night that the Girard Boys Basketball team won the State Championship.

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Mission 2005

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I leave in the morning for Minster, OH, with stops along the way in Chicago and Columbus. There I will be preaching a Lenten Parish Mission. Last year I preached a mission about Precious Blood Spirituality and Reconciliation

This year it is a Mission called "Faith and Covenant" and each night will address and proclaim the following topics:

Jesus, The Lord
We return to our roots as Followers of Jesus, the Son of God who has united himself with every human being, raising our human nature to an incomparable dignity, and drawing the body of Christ, the Church into intimate communion with God.

Mary, Model of Faith and Charity

It was from Mary and from the Church that Christ came; and from Mary and from the Church Christ has still to come for those who have never known him.

Peter, Faltering Faith and Faithful Companion
Whether in times of Transfiguration or moments of Agony, Peter is there speaking for us. He is a model both for daring proclamation and for faltering faith. But Jesus has prayed for him that when Peter turns back, he would strengthen his brothers and sisters.

Eucharist and Covenant
I have come to my garden, my sister, my bride; I gather my myrrh and my spices, I eat my honey and my sweetmeats, I drink my wine and my milk. Eat, friends; drink! Drink freely of love! (Song of Songs 5:1)

On the last night each person will recieve a small pocket Mission cross as a memento of the mission. (pictured above)

The parish mission will be at St. Augustine Church, Minster, OH.

I obtained the little pocket crosses from here.

The parish Mission here at St. Edward preached by Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, CPPS was a great success. The people were quite pleased and happy at tonight's reception.

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Prayers Please

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I will be at The Retrouvaille weekend in Oakland, CA. We have 32 couples coming. I am sure they would appreciate your prayers.

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  one of Fr. Keyes' photos

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Missions and Retreats category.

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