Tag: Homily

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How George Carlin Misunderstood Prayer

William Blake, Ancient of Days (1794)
The famous comedian George Carlin was a fervent atheist, and had a particular disdain for Christian prayer. He argued that it was arrogant of us to ask the God of the Universe for anything. He’s got a Divine plan, and then we come along to ask Him for special favors. But Carlin also viewed prayer as either destructive or worthless. After all, God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good God of the Universe, and He has a Divine Plan. If our prayers cause Him to change that plan, Carlin reasoned, we’re making things worse. If our prayers don’t cause Him to change His plans, what’s the point?

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The Untamed Virgin Queen

Caravaggio, Madonna and Child with St. Anne (1606)
The world has just learned that three more Assyrian Christians have been executed in a particularly barbaric way by ISIS… who’ve promised to continue this murderous campaign if the Christians of the Middle East don’t submit. Pope Francis has repeatedly tried to call our attention to the ongoing genocide of these Christians, and that’s exactly what it is: a systematic attempt to wipe Christians off of the map, permanently. All of this bloodshed is being perpetrated in the name of a radical and expansionist form of Islam. To be sure, this isn’t the only form of Islam practiced, but it is nothing new, either. From the very beginning, there have been groups, beginning with Muhammad himself, who sought to spread Islam by the sword.

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The First Step in Learning to Forgive

Bernardo Strozzi, Banquet at the House of Simon (1630)
Every day, when we pray the Our Father, we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If we refuse to forgive others, we’re asking God to hold us to our own unforgiving standard. This is a hard message, because it’s hard to forgive others when we’ve been hurt. Jesus recognizes it. When He introduces the Our Father, this is the only one part He feels the need to explain. But He doesn’t say “forgive, unless it’s hard.” He says, “if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

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