January 21, 2024
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit seeking our Lady's intercession. Let us pray.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen
Good morning, brothers, and sisters. As Catholics, all of us should know the words virtue and vice, virtue having to do with good thoughts and good actions that are in right order with our nature and with God's plan and design vices or bad thoughts and bad actions that go against God's plan and design and our nature. So obviously, sin is a vice, right? Whatever way we sin, that's vicious behavior. That's where the word comes from, from the word for vice. So in our first reading from the prophet Jonah, we hear as we know, the story of Jonah, he gets swallowed by the whale, gets spat up on shore, and then he has to go throughout Nineveh preaching that 40 days more and God will destroy you because of your vice, because of your sin, So because of your vicious way of living, you're not in conformity with God.
God has decided to destroy you and this city. And again, it takes them three days to walk through the city. But even at the end of the first day, everybody in Nineveh is ready to repent. They put on sackcloth, they sit in the ashes and they fast. They don't eat food and don't drink. And when God sees their change of heart, he repents of his intention to destroy them. Right? This is what it says when God saw by their actions and by their actions how they turned from their evil way He repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them. He did not carry it out. And this this is one of the essential Christian messages that it's not enough to have faith in Christ. It's not enough just to have faith. We have to act on that faith. That faith has to be put into practice in our lives by how we think and what we choose to do. And so, the life of Christ, as the church explains it to us, is a life of what we call virtue. There are many different virtues. We have to work on all of them and grow. Some people are better, and one virtue as opposed to another. And yet some of us are weaker in one virtue or another. And so, we have to strive harder in that virtue. It doesn't matter what the virtue is. I'm not going to go into all of them today. There's too many. So, but it's actions, right? It's actions that God is looking for from us, his people, because it's our nature. God created us with these bodies through which we live and interact. And so, if my faith, if my trust in Jesus Christ is only a matter of my mind and heart, and it doesn't do anything to change my way of life, then clearly, it's hollow, it's empty. But we live in a culture that no longer encourages virtue in its people. Right. You can call it the woke culture. You can call it the victim culture, whatever you want to call it. Instead of holding up what we call virtuous actions as the goal that all people of our society should strive for, right? Even just natural virtue, let alone the supernatural virtues. Instead of doing that, it's lauded and praised. When somebody claims that they a victim, they see that as a mark of pride. I'm oppressed, I'm broken. That's not a mark of pride. There's nothing good in that. It doesn't mean we condemn them for their brokenness. Right? Christ teaches us we love all especially the poor and the weak and the vulnerable the most.
But we don't praise them for their vulnerability and weakness and vice. There's nothing good in that It needs to be repented of. And then that person needs to strive for virtue. But we don't get that culturally anymore. And so, our culture, our country, just like Nineveh, is, is on the path to destruction. Hopefully we get a little more than 40 days, you know, but in the end, you know, if we can't turn things around, then destruction is the inevitability, because Vice always requires, in the end a response from God. He has to stop it when it's so far spread throughout a country. So how do we as individuals affect the national problems that we have in this country and throughout the world? Well, that's the key. We simply do it as an individual. You just work with yourself trying to grow in virtue and with those closest to you, trying to help them grow in virtue. And ultimately, it begins at home. Right. All of you know, all of you parents in particular, how you act, how you speak at home is how you are raising your children. They absorb everything, even if you don't realize you're teaching it simply by the way you talk and act you are. And so, we as parents have a responsibility to live lives of virtue, especially in our homes. And yet that's one of the hardest places to do it, right. The people you live with usually fight with the most or most resentful of hateful towards at times disobedient to where's the virtue If you can't change your own heart with the grace of God and help to change your family, then there is no hope for this culture. Absolutely no hope. And for how long have each of us individually striven to try to grow in holiness and virtue. And yet we fail? Time and time again, it's because we can't really do it as individuals. Like we need each other to help grow in virtue. That's why Christ, in instituting his church, made sure it was a community gathered together, working together, praying together to help all of us not only repent of our sins and believe in Christ, but then, by His grace, grow in virtue.
So one of the things we are doing at Saint Dorothy's in union with Saint Aloysius is we're starting up a group called Fraternus . There's another group called Fidelis that I'd like to start up to, but we don't have enough female volunteers. So, the whole point of this group called Fraternus, or the one we'll eventually start called Fidelis, is to help men and women grow in virtue. That's it. And it's not done in any academic like setting. It's not like catechesis, right? We have to sit down, like at school and learn stuff that we know it's far more natural and practicing and conversational. They play games, they eat food together. They have a meal together, right? It's a very good environment. It's not a class, but for fitness. It's where fathers and sons work together in this program, it's a great Catholic program to help them grow in virtue. Now, we fathers clearly need to grow in more virtue, but if we grow in virtue, we can help our sons grow in virtue, vice versa with Fidelis, which is for mothers and daughters, for women, again, it's to help them grow in virtue. Because, you know, young ladies, you're going to learn to be a woman based on the life of your mother, how she lives and acts. Young men. You're to learn to be a father based on his actions and his words. We as parents have a great responsibility to strive for virtue, but we need other men to help us. Lives need other women to help them. And that's what these groups are designed to do. You don't have to do it on your own. You're not supposed to do it on your own. We're supposed to work collectively together. So like I said, we're starting later this month for attorneys. We're not going to be able to start Fidelis right away. We again, ladies, you got to volunteer. We need you to step up and volunteer because it's run by you, the people. Right. So the men run fraternus. The women run Fidelis. But later this month, on the 29th, on Monday, the 29th, it's going to start up at Saint Louis, just in Hickory. They have a great hall with lots of extra rooms underneath the church. If you're not familiar, just drive up there. You'll find it's easy. It's my home parish. And so for the first four meetings of fraternities is for the men and the young men. It's just basically a come and see experience. There's no commitment required. You don't have to. There's no cost. They'll feed you while you're there. It's from 6:30pm to 8:30pm on Monday nights, starting every week on January 29th and again for four weeks, or just come and check us out and see what you think. I really strongly encourage you men, either with your sons or even without your sons, right to go in and try this. I think you'll be impressed by the program, and it'll help you personally grow in virtue and lead your sons to grow in virtue again. Ladies, I need to encourage you to step up so we can start Fidelis for the ladies as well. Some of our parishioners have already been doing this at other parishes. They've been driving out to other parishes just to have their kids in these programs. And not only the parents, but the kids, them, the kids, I shouldn't say the young men and women, they rave about it. They absolutely love it. It's really fantastic. So, again, I would just strongly encourage you to consider this because how often have we failed in our lives of virtue trying to do it on our own? The whole point of this program is you don't have to do it on your own anymore. You're going to have the support of other men and young men, other women, and young women. And it's us working together to help all of us collectively grow. So again, please just pray about that. Consider it after mass today, some men will be out in the foyer to answer any questions you have about fitness.
I'm sure you can ask about Fidelis because they're similar programs. But please, you know, take a moment, stop talk with them, at least be open to the idea. Now, there is a cost in the end to pay for the program if you're joining it permanently. But if there are some of you who aren't interested in getting involved and maybe don't have any kids that you could bring, you can still come in and help out. That's not a problem. But, you know, if you want to give a financial donation to help families and young men and women attend these things without, you know, having the burden of the cost, I don't remember what the prices are. You can talk to them about it. There's kind of one set price yearly for the program and then you just break that down between the members.
But again, please consider this. It's really a phenomenal program ultimately for ourselves. It's going to take sacrifice, as we know, to grow in virtue sacrifice like the nine invites wearing sackcloth. If you know anything about sackcloth, it is very uncomfortable. You don't want to wear sackcloth sitting in the ashes. I'd rather sit on the couch. So, sitting in ashes is penitential, right? Not eating food, not drinking. That's certainly very painful to the body, you know, and lifting up my mind and heart to God in prayer. You know, it's these actions where we sacrifice things in our lives, where we actually choose to suffer the loss of good things so as to show God, we are repentant, and we do want to change our ways. So, yes, these kinds of events will be sacrificial. Even getting up for mass on a Sunday morning, the sacrificial, you know, I mean, I'd like to sleep in too, so but when we are willing to give things up for the Lord, not only does it please him because he sees our desire, but it enables us to receive all of the graces to grow in virtue that he pours out upon us, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Jon 3:1-5,10; Ps 25: 4-5,5-7,8-9; 1 Cor 7:29-31; Mk 1:14-20
Homily begins at 17:49