Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why I Preached What I Preached Last Evening

[To listen to the Homily, please go to, and click the 8/14/10 link]

My chief point in the Homily was that most Catholics today don’t pay much attention to the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary because they don’t pay much attention to two other rather important facts: sin, and death. (Specifically, the fact that all of us are sinners, and the fact that all of us are going to die as one of the effects of original sin).

The singular privilege given to Mary by God, to be conceived without stain of original sin and, thus, to be assumed body and soul into heaven without mortal corruption at the end of her earthly life, means little to those Catholics today who believe, first, that everyone jumps right from the nursing home bed into heaven (well, everyone except perhaps Hitler and, this year, various petroleum corporate executives), and, second, that death is not at all a terrible thing to behold, so long as one has chosen a trustworthy mortician.

The second half of the Hail Mary is a most succinct reminder of the twin realities of sin and death, and of Mary's preeminent intercessory role in the face of those realities.  I chose to mention my hospital visits in the hope that, by hearing about the two dying Catholics straining to pray the Hail Mary at the hour of their death, the listeners might soberly reflect upon that moment at the consummation of their own lives on earth. (One woman told me after Mass, “Father, that story made me shiver.” “Good,” I replied.)

One final note: We celebrated the Baptism of baby Aiden James during the Mass, and thus the reference to him in the Homily.  It's never too early to get the little ones praying their Hail Mary's...


  1. Listened to the homily. Can we borrow you in my diocese? We wouldn't keep you long: just 40 or 50 years or so.

  2. Wonderful, Father.

    You have me convinced. When I have been visiting patients, I just say the Our Father. Somehow I felt the Hail Mary was "too" something, perhaps "too Catholic."

    Most of my patients aren't in near danger of death. But I have seen enough of them so to watch those lips move, too.

  3. My family and I have loved and cared for 2 parents in our home. Both passed away, as planned, at home with us. My mother went into a coma several days before she died. When Fr Jim came to us to anoint my mother, she was already in her coma. As we prayed together we could visably see this "unconscience" woman relax, let go, and prepare. OH, what a blessing! Thank God for all his gifts so richly bestowed upon us, and thank you for continuing to remind us of what it is to be Catholic, and the gifts we often leave unopened.