Sermon: St. Therese Homilies

Confirmation Strengthens Us

Confirmation Strengthens Us

Homily 6th Sunday of Easter Year A

Confirmation Strengthens Us to Witness & to Suffer for Christ

Fr. Dwight P. Campbell, S.T.D.

St. Augustine offers some beautiful thoughts upon which to meditate in this holy Season of Easter:

Because there are these two periods of time—the one that is now, beset with the trials and troubles of this life, and the other yet to come, a life of everlasting serenity and joy—we are given two liturgical seasons, one before Easter and the other after.


The season before Easter signifies the troubles in which we live here and now, while the time after Easter which we are celebrating at present signifies the happiness that will be ours in the future.


What we commemorate before Easter is what we experience in this life; what we celebrate after Easter points to something we do not yet possess.


This is why we keep the first season with fasting and prayer; but now the fast is over and we devote the present season to praise. Such is the meaning of the Alleluia we sing.

“Both these periods are represented and demonstrated for us in Christ our head. The Lord’s passion depicts for us our present life of trial—shows how we must suffer and be afflicted and finally die. The Lord’s resurrection and glorification show us the life that will be given to us in the future.”

This holy season of Easter is a season of new life – in Christ.


We receive this new life in Baptism, when we the very life of God (called Sanctifying Grace) is poured into our souls – that divine life which was lost to us by Adam’s sin and which Jesus Christ redeemed/won back by dying on the Cross.


And we are strengthened in that divine life – with the Gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit – by the Sacrament of Confirmation.


We see this truth revealed in our readings on this 6th Sunday of Easter.


The first reading is from Acts of Apostles: It relates the story of how Philip (not the Apostle but one of the first seven deacons) was casting out demons and healing people in the City of Samaria.

Philip also baptized people there, but as a deacon he could not administer the Sacrament of Confirmation which would bring the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them.

That’s why the Church sent the Apostles Peter and John, who had the apostolic power to confirm these newly baptized Christians – they did so by “laying hands” on them so that they received the fullness of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit.


The Sacrament of Confirmation was instituted on first Pentecost Sunday. Two weeks from now we will celebrate Pentecost when our churches will open again for public Masses (just to know, we’ll have to space people at the Masses, seating people at the ends of every other pew, but families will be able to sit together).


That first Pentecost Sunday, fifty days after Our Lord’s Resurrection, God the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit who came upon the Apostles as tongues of fire. This was to fulfill what Jesus said at the Last Supper, when He promised to send the Holy Spirit – our Gospel today: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept.”


The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost to strengthen the Apostles to fulfill the mission Jesus had given them when He ascended into Heaven ten days earlier: “Go out and preach to all the nations, baptizing them, and teaching them all that I have taught you.


The Apostles did not begin to preach and teach because they were afraid to do so; but after the Holy Spirit strengthened them they began to fulfill this great mission.


Did you know that all of us who are baptized are called to fulfill this mission in our own way? This is why we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, to strengthen us to do so.


Our second reading: 1 Peter (he wrote 2 epistles in the NT): “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”


In my apologetics class with HS seniors, I repeat this phrase over and over. (Apologetics – from Greek apologia – defense; apologetics classes teach students to explain and defend our Catholic Faith.) As St. Peter says, we must ALWAYS be ready to explain and defend our Catholic Faith.


But to fulfill this mission effectively – to be able to give an explanation of our Faith to others who inquire about it, or to defend our Faith with those who attack it, we must know our Catholic Faith; and to know it requires that we study it.


And St. Peter adds another important point: Whenever we give an explanation to anyone who asks, we must do so “with gentleness and reverence.” That’s often a difficult thing to do, especially in when discussing hot-button topics like abortion and same-sex marriage.


Why do you Catholics worship Mary?” We don’t, we honor her – as Jesus does even now, because Mary remains His Mother in Heaven; and we ask her to pray for us – that’s what we do in the Hail Mary prayer (which, by the way, comes from chapter 1 of St. Luke’s Gospel).


Why are you against a woman’s ‘right to choose’?” Well, there is no “right” to do wrong, to do evil – Abraham Lincoln said the same thing in his debates with people who were “pro-choice” on the matter of slavery, saying: “I wouldn’t own a slave myself, but I can’t force my opinion on other people who choose to own slaves.” Abortion is murder, plain and simple; and there is no “right” to kill innocent children in the womb.


Why do you hate gays – and say they can’t get married?” We don’t hate anyone, we love them; and because we love them we tell people the truth about the human person, created male and female by God.


And we defend marriage as instituted by God from the beginning of the human race, an institution which is ordered by nature to procreation of children, and for that reason depends upon the complementarity – both physical and emotional – of the spouses, male and female.


Now, it’s not easy to remain calm in explaining and defending the teachings of Christ and His Church. The Holy Spirit’s Gift of Counsel helps us to do so in the heat of a debate, to say what God wants us to say.


St. Peter also warns us that that defending our faith will be difficult at times. He says in today’s epistle that we will be maligned and defamed, and that we will suffer. Jesus Himself says the same in many passages in the Gospel: “If they hated me, they will hate you; if they persecuted me, they will persecute you.


I firmly believe that these warnings apply particularly to our present time in world history, which may in fact be the “End Times.” I’m not alone in this thinking.


Former Pope Benedict XVI was recently interviewed by German author Peter Seewald. The interview was just published in a book, titled Benedict XVI – A Life.


Pope Benedict is quoted as saying that “the real threat to the Church [today] . . . consists . . . in the worldwide dictatorship of seemingly humanistic ideologies. . . . A hundred years ago, everyone would have thought it absurd to speak of a homosexual marriage. Today whoever opposes it is socially excommunicated. The same applies to abortion and the production of human beings in the laboratory. Modern society,” says Pope Benedict, “is in the process of formulating an ‘anti-Christian creed’ . . . this spiritual power of the Antichrist . . . truly takes the prayers of . . . the universal Church to resist it.”


But defending our Catholic Faith – even though we will be maligned and defamed for doing so – is worth the mistreatment, the social excommunication, and the suffering that come with it, because the reward is the salvation of souls (because not everyone will reject the truth), and ultimately, eternal happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven!

The State of Catholic Higher Education

The State of Catholic Higher Education

3rd Sunday Year A: The State of Catholic Higher Education

Last week’s Gospel related the story of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist at the Jordan. This week’s Gospel relates the beginning of Our Lord’s public ministry, which He initiates with these words: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus calls fishermen, Peter & Andrew, James & John, to assist Him in spreading the Gospel.


Giving witness to Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven is a duty imposed on all of us by reason of our baptism. That’s why we all have a duty to grow in our knowledge of the Catholic Faith – a good subject to address today as we begin Catholic Schools Week.


I’m taking the opportunity today to preach on the state of Catholic higher education. And I’ll begin with a true story.


In July 1967, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, then president of the University of Notre Dame, gathered the leaders of 26 Catholic universities at a retreat center in Land O Lakes Wisconsin.


Top administrators from Georgetown University, Boston College, St. Louis University, Fordham University and other top Catholic colleges came together.


Over the course of their four-day meeting, they drafted a “Statement on the Nature of the Contemporary Catholic University” which became later known as the “Land O Lakes Statement.”


This statement boldly declared that bishops should not “interfere” with the Catholic academic world: “The Catholic university”, they said, “must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself” (emphasis added).


In effect, the statement rejected the role of bishops, in their teaching authority, in overseeing Catholic education – in the name of so-called “academic freedom.”


In the years that followed, many professors at Catholic colleges began to present theological opinions which contradict Catholic teaching; and they did this in the classroom to unsuspecting students (and their parents, who were paying for their education), which undermined their faith.


Fast-forward to 1990. Pope St. John Paul II, who was a university professor himself, saw the extreme danger and harm caused by this state of affairs in Catholic higher education.


To remedy the situation, he issued a document called Ex Corde Ecclesiae (“From the Heart of the Church”), which states that to teach theology in a Catholic college or university, a professor must take an public oath of fidelity to the Catholic Church’s authentic doctrine, and pledge to not put forth anything contrary to the Church’s teaching, after which the professor would receive a mandatum (an official mandate or permission) from the bishop of the diocese to teach.


This makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? To teach theology at a Catholic institution of higher education, one must pledge to teach faithfully with the Catholic Church believes and teaches. A no-brainer!


But, alas, most of the Catholic colleges and universities in this country rejected Pope St. John Paul’s document and to this day refuse to require a mandate for theology professors to teach at their universities.


They do so by asserting a “right” or license to dissent from the Catholic Church’s authentic teaching – especially in the area of sexual morality – in the name of “academic freedom” – which is really a false notion of freedom; for authentic freedom means exercising one’s will in conformity to the truth revealed by God and the Church which Jesus Christ founded.


I’ll give some examples of how these Catholic colleges and universities violate the norms of the Church and by doing so corrupt minds and hearts of the students whom they teach. I’ll preface this by saying that at these Catholic colleges there are teachers who faithfully teach what the Church teaches; but there are also those who do not, and the unsuspecting student may take a theology class and not be aware that the professor is teaching something contrary to the faith.


I’ll begin with my alma mater, Loyola University Chicago, where I received both my undergraduate and law degrees. About 25 years ago Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago called me, complaining that Loyola Law School was encouraging students to work for Planned Parenthood (the largest abortion provider in the country) in their lawsuit against the Pro-Life Action League.


I wrote to the university president and to the law school dean in protest, but received no response.


Over the years I wrote to the university president many times (like when it permitted a “drag queen fashion show”), stating that I was a priest and an alumnus. I said that Loyola should be forming students to engage in the current culture war from a Catholic perspective; instead, it is de-forming students to go along with the current culture of death. I never received a response, and I’ve stopped writing.


Across town from Loyola in Chicago is DePaul University, the largest Catholic university in the country. DePaul features programs in gender and LGBTQ studies. A few years ago one professor, who openly lives with her female partner, was quoted as saying that “the number of LGBT faculty has grown to the point where today I know that I don’t know all of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender faculty at DePaul.” You can imagine what these professors are teaching students.


For decades a tenured professor at DePaul, ex-priest Dominic Crossan, poisoned the minds of students in the area of Scripture. He taught that Jesus Christ was not really God and that He did not rise from the dead; rather, His body was thrown into a ditch for scavenger dogs to eat his bones. I have his book, and had a public exchange with him on public radio some years back.


Georgetown University – the first Catholic college in the United States – was Father Ben Reese’s alma mater. In the mid to late 1970s, when he attended Georgetown, he had a number of classes with professors who dissented from the Church’s teaching. He always swore that he was going to send his diploma back for their antics.


About fifteen years ago Cardinal Francis Arinze, who was then Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, gave the commencement address at Goergetown, in which he defended natural marriage between one man and one woman. Many faculty members stomped off the stage at his remarks. I saw Cardinal Arinze shortly thereafter and congratulated him for his courage.


A few years back Georgetown grad William Peter Blatty, author of the book The Exorcist, brought a canon law suit against Georgetown, in which he was joined by thousands of alumni and students. The suit claimed the Georgetown was departing from its Catholic mission by having faculty who advocate for abortion and same-sex marriage, and by inviting pro-abortion speakers to address students.


Two years ago the University of Dayton, where I did my graduate studies in Mariology, issued norms saying that students should not use words “husband” and “wife”; these words are deemed “inappropriate” because they are gender specific, and “wife” no longer refers specifically to a woman who was married to a man; nor does “husband” refer to a man married to a woman.


In case you didn’t know it, we’re in a time of gender confusion, and the University of Dayton’s norms help to foster this confusion among its students and faculty.


Although I could go on with many more examples, I’ll finish off this brief survey to speak about the Catholic University to the north, Marquette. Back in 2014, an undergraduate student came to see Dr. John McAdams, a tenured professor who taught at Marquette over 30 years.


The student complained that in a philosophy class taught by a graduate student instructor, the issue of same-sex marriage came up. The instructor allowed no discussion because she claimed that there could be no genuine disagreement about same-sex marriage now that the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed it in this country.


Prof. McAdams sent an email to Marquette university faculty members, complaining that if Marquette claims to be a truly Catholic university, free and open discussion about such topics should be encouraged, not discouraged. Prof. McAdams was fired for his actions. He took the case to court, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court just last year ruled in his favor, ordering Marquette to re-hire him.


About a week ago I talked to a graduate student who formerly taught theology at Marquette, who informed me that all professors at Marquette are required to address students by the pronouns of their choice rather than the pronoun that conforms to their sex. For example, if a female student identifies as a male, professor must use the male pronoun or else be fired.


This, my friends, is insanity. To go along with students with gender dysphoria and conform to their demands does not help them, but makes the problem worse.


In 1993, in response to St. John Paul II’s call to assure the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and universities, the Cardinal Newman Society was founded.


The Society was named in honor of the recently canonized John Henry Cardinal Newman, who was a convert from Anglicanism to the Catholic Church and great scholar himself and promoter of education (he penned a famous book, The Idea of a University). The Society reports on the fidelity – or infidelity – of Catholic institutions of higher education.


Cardinal Newman Society also publishes a Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College (now only online), which lists all the Catholic colleges and universities in the United States which are faithful to the Church’s teaching and which require their theology professors to take an oath of fidelity to Church teaching and to receive a mandate from the bishop to teach.


Father McDermott and I strongly recommend that in choosing a Catholic college university to attend, students and parents should choose one that is endorsed by the Newman Society. Each of us will offer a $500 scholarship per year to any student who attends a college or university endorsed by the Newman Society.


I tell parents that if you’re considering a Catholic college and want to know where it stands, just ask: “Do your theology professors swear an oath of fidelity to Catholic teaching and do they receive a mandate from the bishop to teach?” If they say “No” and give you some line about “academic freedom” – beware! That’s a likely warning sign they allow dissenters to teach there.


Some years back the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA compared results of a survey given to college freshmen, then given to these same students as graduating seniors. The results showed that students attending Catholic colleges were more likely to support legalized abortion and same-sex marriage than students attending private/secular colleges.


The purpose of a Catholic university education is to instill in students a love for Truth, Goodness and Beauty in the context of our Holy Catholic Faith. Authentic Catholic colleges do just this, and form the hearts and minds of students to allow them to engage our modern culture which is in so many ways anti-Christian and promotes a culture of death.


On this Sunday that we begin Catholic Schools Week, let us pray for our Catholic grade schools and St. Joseph’s High School here in Kenosha; and let us invoke St. John Henry Cardinal Newman and Pope St. John Paul II to intercede for all Catholic colleges and universities, that they may be faithful to their mission to form the minds and hearts of students in the beauty of the truth of our Catholic Faith.

Christ’s 2nd Coming & the Antichrist

Christ’s 2nd Coming & the Antichrist

Homily 33rd Sunday Year C: Christ’s 2nd Coming & the Antichrist

Today we hear these awe-inspiring words from the Prophet Malachi: “Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire, says the Lord of hosts. But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”


Of what “day” does the Prophet Malachi speak? He refers to the Day of the Lord, the final day of the world, when Jesus, the Son of Justice, will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Today is the 33rd Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year, which comes to an end next Sunday with the Feast of Christ the King. It is most fitting that as the Church’s liturgical year comes to an end, that the readings focus on the end of the world, the “End Times” as they are called.

In our Gospel today from St. Luke, we hear Jesus describing the events that will precede His Second Coming at the end of the world.


Actually, in today’s Gospel Jesus describes two events: first, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Roman armies under the Emperor Trajan which would take place in 70 A.D.: in regard to the Temple, He says “there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” (only “wailing wall” left);

and second, he describes the things that will precede His Second Coming.

Why does he speak of both events in the same context? Because the violence and upheaval that would accompany the destruction of the Temple will be a both small version, and a foreshadowing, of the violence and turmoil that will come before the end of the world.

In ch. 21 of St. Luke’s Gospel, as well as in ch. 24 of St. Matthew’s and ch. 13 of St. Mark’s, Our Lord reveals the signs that will proceed the end of the world and His Second Coming – more remote signs, and more immediate signs.


For example, today we hear Jesus say: “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place.” Sin and evil will increase. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus specifies that “nation rising against nation” and “earthquakes, famines and plagues “are the beginning of the labor pains” – in other words, more remote signs – that the end of the world is coming, but still a ways off.


And in today’s Gospel from St. Luke, as well as in the Gospels of Saints Matthew and Mark, Jesus warns us: “Do not be deceived, for many will come in my name saying, ‘I am he.’” Here Our Lord is speaking of many false Christs, or “antichrists,” who will come throughout the centuries and will lead people away from His true Gospel and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that He founded on Peter and the Apostles.


In his first epistle, St. John the Evangelist speaks of “many antichrists” who will come; he describes them in these words: “Who is the Antichrist? He who denies that Jesus is the Christ, and who denies the Father and the Son, is an antichrist (1 Jn. 2:22). In fact, there have been many antichrists throughout history – precursors of the final Antichrist; some who were religious leaders: like Arius (the 4th century priest who denied that Jesus was the eternal Son of God), Mohammed, the founder of Islam (who likewise denied that Jesus was God), and Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism (which embraces polytheism); some who were secular leaders: like the Emperor Nero, and more recently, Hitler, Stalin and Mao Zedong.


But immediately before Jesus’ Second Coming, the final Antichrist will come – he of whom St. Paul refers in 2 Thessalonians as “the lawless one” and the “man of perdition” (2:3) who “exalts himself above every so-called god . . . claiming that he is a god” (2:4). This is the man St. John, in the Book of Revelation, refers to as “the Beast” (ch. 13) and assigns him the mysterious number of “666” (13:18). This “man of iniquity” will openly deny Our Lord Jesus Christ to be the Son of God who came in the flesh. Christ came in the name of His Father; the Antichrist will come, as Jesus tells us, “in his own name” (Jn. 5:43).


What will be the signs, and what will pave the way, for worldwide acceptance of this great deceiver, the Antichrist? St. Paul reveals to us in 2 Thess. that before the “man of perdition” appears, there must first come “the great apostasy,” i.e, the great falling away from the faith by masses of people throughout the world. Once people have fallen away from the true faith and belief in Jesus Christ, they will be ready to accept someone who deceives them into thinking that he is the Messiah.


Saints and scholars are of the opinion that the Antichrist will come at a time when there will be great upheaval in the world, possibly when powerful nations will be on the brink of war; the Antichrist will then appear on the world scene, masquerading as a man of peace. He will deceive government leaders throughout the world, who will hand over to him all political and economic power; then, when his power is consolidated, he will try to impose a false religion, false worship, and ultimately demand worship of himself.


Both the Prophet Daniel and the Book of Revelation reveal that the Antichrist will rule the world for 3 ½ years (in imitation of Christ’s 3 ½ years of public ministry); during which time he will bring a true reign of terror upon the Church, and will unleash the last and greatest persecution upon the faithful that the world has ever seen. The Prophet Daniel says: “It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time. . . . many shall fall away and evil shall increase” (Dan. Ch. 12).


Some saints think that the persecution will be so great that, during the reign of the Antichrist, the Mass will not be offered publicly anywhere in the world, based on the Prophet Daniel’s words: “He [the Antichrist] will abolish sacrifice and oblation” (i.e., the Sacrifice of the Mass).


But it will also be the time of the greatest saints and martyrs, those who are most devoted to Our Lady – because, as the Book of Genesis (3:15) tells us, the battle will be between the serpent (Satan) and “the woman” (Mary), between his seed and her seed (i.e., Mary’s Son, Our Lord), and she will crush his head.


Finally, Jesus will bring the Antichrist’s reign to an end, at which time, with his Second Coming, Christ’s Kingdom will be definitively established.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us sound teaching and guidance on these matters:


675 “Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo [or false] messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.”


677 “The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, . . . only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, . . . God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.”


When will all these things happen? When will the Antichrist make his appearance? Could we live to see the day?


Sister Lucy, the third Fatima visionary, died in 2005 as a Carmelite nun. In a 1957 interview with Fr. Augustine Fuentes, who at that time was the postulator for the cause of canonization of the other two Fatima visionaries, Jacinta and Francisco, Sister Lucy said this to him:


Father, the Most Holy Virgin did not tell me that we are in the last times of the world but She made me understand this for [the following] reasons. The first reason is because She told me that the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Virgin. And a decisive battle is the final battle where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Hence from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God or we are for the devil. There is no other possibility.


The second reason is because She said to my cousins as well as to myself that God is giving two last remedies to the world. These are the Holy Rosary and Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”


And consider these words spoken by a Polish bishop at a meeting of bishops in Philadelphia in early November. 1978: “We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the church and the anti-church, of the Gospel versus the anti-gospel.” That Polish bishop was none other than Carol Wojtyla, who was later elected Pope and took the name John Paul II, and who is now St. John Paul II.


These are sobering words, indeed. What does our Lord want us to do? To be faithful to Him; to be prepared, which means to always be in a state of grace (because in the end, all that really matters is that we die in a state of grace). We know not the day nor the hour of His glorious return. The key to being prepared is to persevere in remaining faithful. In today’s Gospel Jesus assures us: “He who perseveres to the end will be saved.”


Let us remember also the two remedies: the Holy Rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us pray the Rosary – daily – as Our Lady beseeched us to do at Fatima. And let us show devotion and honor to her Immaculate Heart, knowing that it is through her pierced Heart that we enter into the Heart of her Son, Our Redeemer, and remain in His love. (A reminder: Every 1st Saturday of the month we have morning Mass with devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!)


Finally, let us remember that the victory is ours, if we remain faithful, for Christ has already conquered by His death and glorious Resurrection; and as Our Lady told us at Fatima, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” How? The Blessed Virgin Mary, the “Woman” of Genesis 3:15, will crush the proud head of the serpent (Satan) under her foot!

New Liturgical Year – Advent

New Liturgical Year – Advent

“During the season of Advent, Our Lord knocks at the door of all men’s hearts…
[I]n order to appreciate the whole of this ineffable mystery [of the birth of Our Savior] at Christmas,
we must remember that, since we can be pleasing to our Heavenly Father only inasmuch as He sees within us His Son Jesus Christ,
this amiable Savior deigns to come into each one of us, and transform us,
if we will but consent, into Himself, so that henceforth we may live, not we, but He in us.
This is, in reality, the one grand aim of the Christian religion,to make man divine through Jesus Christ:
it is the task which God has given to His Church to do, and she says to the faithful what St. Paul said to his Galatians:
My little children, of whom I am in labor again, until Christ be formed within you!’ (Gal iv 19)”
Fr. McDermott