John 1:14

The Piety of the Steps March 28, 2018

Filed under: Blog,Uncategorized — admin at 6:33 pm on Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Piety of the Steps                                           Fr. Rob Jack STL

Piety is a gift of the Holy Spirit through which one cherishes and passes on the history of one’s faith as a source of one’s human and Christian identity. When we place around ourselves pictures of our families and friends and our pets and personal mementos, we practice a type of natural piety.

The supernatural gift of piety is a Gift of the Holy Spirit. We practice it by surrounding ourselves with the holy objects, such as statues, pictures, rosaries, medals, etc. and performing meaningful deeds. They remind us of the presence of God. They ground our faith. They motivate us to pass the faith forward.

In the City of Cincinnati, every Good Friday, people flock to the steps that lead to Holy Name- Immaculata Church on Mount Adams and slowly climb them. They come with different practices. Some say a prayer on each step. Some pray the rosary. Others may pray for sick friends or peace in the world. Whatever the reason, they are making a primordial human act. They are reaching up to God. Some bring friends, children and even grandchildren to pass on this simple yet powerful devotion. When they reach the Church at the top of the hill, they can go to the Sacrament of Penance or just say a simple prayer in Church in thanksgiving to the Mother of God, and God Himself for another year on this earth.

What are some lessons we can learn from this yearly devotion. The first is that faith is familial. We pass it on from parent to child to grandchildren. Of all the things we provide for our children, the most important is the gift of faith. It is the one thing we carry with us at the moment of our death. We also see as we climb the steps that we are part of a much bigger human family, the family of the Church. Faith connects us to each other in even deeper ways that blood.  It is interesting to note that Archbishop Purcell promised to build a Church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, on the highest hill in Cincinnati as a sign of thanks for surviving a dangerous storm at sea. She looks over the whole city. She is truly from the vantage point Our Lady of Cincinnati, our Mother and Protectrix. Every citizen of Cincinnati, believer and non-believer, friend and foe, is under her maternal care and protection. It brings me comfort that look up to the Church on Mount Adams and see the statue of the Virgin Mary looking over all of us with her arms extended. Her intercession to Jesus holds the key to many of the problem we face as a society.

A second Lesson is that, as sinful and wounded human beings, we desire to repair what we have broken and we know that God’s grace and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary are necessary to do this. We have to train not only our souls, but our bodies. Our whole person is involved in the shaping and renewal of our life. We “climb the mountain of the Lord.” Over the Church of the Immaculata is a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. As Catholics, we recognize that Jesus himself has given us Mary as our Spiritual Mother, sure guide to Him and an advocate on our behalf that we may be pleasing to Him. Mary points to Jesus. Mary points to the Cross. Mary’s most important duties are to be the Mother of God and the means for us to truly get close to her Son. We have Mary in our sight as we climb the steps, but we know that our journey does not end with her, but with her Son.

A third Lesson that comes from walking the steps is the power of piety and tradition. These actions remind us that our lives are seriously weakened without the active and loving presence of God. These steps are not superstitious actions to get God to give us what we want, but a real reminder of what God has truly given us in human history: God has sent his Son Jesus Christ to save the world from sin and death and provide a new and true path to life. He does this by dying on the cross out of love for His heavenly Father and the human race, with whom God the Son shares a full human nature. Prayer and acts of self-denial reminds us that we are not the center of the universe. When we place ourselves in faith at the service of God, life opens up in profoundly new ways.

So whether we climb the steps on Good Friday or simply observe others as we drive by, remember that Easter is not about bunnies and little chicks and chocolate, but the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world, Jesus Christ who makes of his own free will an offering of himself on the wood of the Cross for the redemption of the whole world.  That news is worth passing on. That news and the gifts of grace that come from it, make the climb worth it.




Easter Sunday March 27, 2016

Filed under: Blog — admin at 9:12 pm on Saturday, March 26, 2016

God has kept his promise today. This was the promise he made to Adam and Eve, to Abraham and the Patriarchs, to King David, to his Apostles and finally to us. What was the promise he made exactly? He promised us that he would restore what we surrendered; he would recreate what we destroyed; he would fix what we had broken. This is our relationship with him. All throughout the Bible God was faithful to his promises but we have not been.

Today that has changed. Jesus Christ, true God and true man kept the promise that he made to the Father: that he would be eternally faithful and living to him, and he kept his promise to us, that the Son of man who was handed over to death would be raised on the Third Day. This is what we remember today not only because it truly happened in history, but that his bodily resurrection has changed history in a way that no one ever could have done before. By our Baptism, we have become not only partakers, but history makers with the risen Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is connected with our baptism because that is the day we became a part of salvation history. That is the day we put on Christ. That is the day we were anointed with the Holy Spirit. That is the day that the grace of God changed our hearts and made them capable with sharing Jesus’ life in a life altering way.  Jesus’ death and resurrection has opened up the river of God’s mercy and love that we had closed by our sins.  The light of the Easter candle has permanently removed the inky darkness of despair that has filled some many hearts. IT is a time to renew our faith and remember the promises we made to Jesus and to the church when we were first baptized.

In a couple of moments, we will renew the promises we made at baptism, namely to reject sin and to believe in the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Maybe we have taken this lightly in the past, but I ask you to focus on it today. These promises in the realm of our faith really have a life or death meaning for us. By keeping our promises to the Lord, he grants us his many gifts of grace and strength and perseverance through good times and bad. He makes life truly livable. We become able to follow teachings and the path Jesus Christ in a way that we cannot do without him.

God has lived up to his word because this Word is Jesus his Son. May our renewing of the promises made our Baptism fill us our hearts with a new life, a new love and a new commitment to pray every day in thanksgiving and petition to God who opens us heaven for the human race today, by the bodily Resurrection of Jesus his Son. Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

Good Friday 2016

Filed under: Blog — admin at 9:29 pm on Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jesus was wounded for our offenses. In his wounds we are healed. In the Prayer the Anima Christi, one of the invocations is “within your wounds hide me.” How is it possible to hide in the wounds of Jesus? We know he was wounded by scourges, he was wounded by a crown of thorns, he was wounded by nails in his hands and feet, and he was pierced in his side. These wounds are the result of his rejection by the very people he has come to save, each one of us. He paid a price we could not pay. He suffered a horrible death to put to death, death itself. He took on these wounds to offer us freedom.

We have our own wounds. They are not from scourges or nails or thorns or a sword but from a lack of love of God and neighbor. They are the wounds of sin, both those we have committed and those that have been done to us.

In a few moments, each of us will come forward to venerate the cross of our Lord, bearing our own wounds. We come to him with sorrow and suffering in our hearts. We pray that the wounds of our guilt may be healed by the wounds of Christ’s mercy. Our wounds are known to him. These are wounds of pride, arrogance, lust, selfishness, greed and violence: The wounds of our hands when we struck out at others rather than offer to lift them up: The wounds of our feet when we walked away from those in need instead of offering to carry them: The wounds of pride when we considered ourselves too good to serve or too proud to admit weakness: The worst of all, the wounds of the heart broken by rejection or having broken hearts out of selfishness or cruelty.

Jesus Christ, free from all sins, took on the ugliness, the emptiness and our rejection of his offer of unconditional love. He calls out to us from the cross:

“I thirst.” He thirsts for us to hide our wounds in his. He thirsts for our suffering, he thirsts for our broken and hardened hearts.  This day he offers to hide these wounds in his so that they can be forgiven and healed by the blood and water that flows out of his pierced heart. How can we not take him on this offer? How can we not embrace the cross and kiss it and say that here my wounds are hidden and here they are healed? Why would anyone stay away?

Jesus Christ has come among us one of us so that he can live with us and offer his life for us in love for the Father and for the sorrow of the human race. The cross we venerate today makes clear the glory of God the Father, the love of God the Son and the power of God the Holy Spirit to free us and bring us back to life. Leave your wounds here. Leave your sorrow here, leave your sins here, and go with the love of Jesus Christ to make that love, the love which will direct your life.

Holy Thursday Homily March 24, 2016

Filed under: Blog — admin at 4:15 pm on Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jesus never stops leading us. In the darkness of his approaching death, he offers the light of his obedient love. In the chaos of his arrest and trial before the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate, he tells us the truth of who he is. In a world suffering from a famine of faith and love, He gives us himself as our food and drink.

Jesus has taught us through his preaching that the Father is one on whom we must depend. He tells us to live out this message and also commands us to love as he loves. St. Paul teaches the Corinthians this lesson in his Letter. He reminds them that he is passing on what he has received, namely that Jesus gives us his Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine to unite all people in faith and pour salvation upon the world. We can say that St. Paul gives us an example of living a “hand to mouth” existence not in the sense of his poverty, although he was poor, but rather by receiving everything from the hand of the Lord.

There are some people today who are forced to live a “hand to mouth” existence. They are just able to get by. They have enough money for rent, utilities, gas and food and that’s about it. The people we know who are living this way are not happy about it. They hope for a day when they have more than enough so they can do other things.

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper teaches us a different lesson. The hand to mouth existence that Jesus creates for the one who believes in him is one of great abundance. The Bible shows us time and time again that life is truly a hand to mouth existence. God fed the Israelites every day in the wilderness for forty years with manna from heaven. God sent ravens and an Angel to feed the prophet Elijah and his way to Zarapeth in Sidon. Jesus himself teaches us to pray every day “give us this day our daily bead.” Living in this country blessed with abundant resources, we can take for granted the poor and believe we have the ability to take care of ourselves without the help of God. Jesus makes it clear to his disciples that they cannot take care of themselves, not only their bodies, but particularly their souls. Like them, we receive everything we have from the hand of God. In the great mystery of the Holy Eucharist we are fed by the very hand of God with his own Body and Blood.

The disciples feel safe around Jesus, but soon he will be taken from them as he is handed over to the authorities for trial. Sadly, the disciples fail him. He is betrayed by one, denied by another and abandoned by the rest. They have not yet fully learned the lesson he taught them at the Passover meal, that when they eat his body and drink his blood, they proclaim his death until he comes again.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus and the descent of the Holy Spirit, the disciples will carry out what Jesus commanded them to do in memory of him, namely to proclaim his message and to share in the sacrificial offering of his body and blood that he commissioned them to carry out for his church and the world.  This is the lesson we must remember tonight.

We need to learn to live from hand to mouth, from God’s hands to our mouths. When there is darkness, the Eucharist brings light. When we are wounded by sin, the Eucharist brings healing and forgiveness.  Where there is division and confusion, the Eucharist will bring us unity and clarity.  In this action we accept and welcome our total dependence on the mercy of God who feeds us with himself. It is only then that we like Paul and the other Apostles can hand on what we have received to the mouths of others

Jesus has given us this memorial, this truly living reality of his presence, to remind us that his love never ends. May the celebration of the Lord’s Supper bring us peace, and fill us with the zeal to faithfully carry out his works today.


Links for 40 Words of Jesus

Filed under: Blog — admin at 8:35 pm on Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I have attached the templates for the 40 words of Jesus Lenten sheet. IF you copy both on one sheet you can then fold them in half.



Have a Blessed Lent

January 21, 2016 Ethics notes

Filed under: Blog — admin at 4:11 pm on Thursday, January 21, 2016

Lecture notes for LPC 123


April 4, 2015 Easter Vigil

Filed under: Blog — admin at 8:40 pm on Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Vigil 2015

On this night the Church takes us back all the way to the creation of the world. We hear the story of creation from the book of Genesis when God first created light. That light comes from the fire of God’s love which warms us, purifies us and enlightens us. It is also for us the light of faith.

From that light we are now able to see ourselves as we truly are, marked with sin and death. We see that we cannot save ourselves, so we reach out to the one who has offered to save us, Jesus Christ. With Jesus’ Bodily resurrection, God the Father has chosen to offer us a new life, which we receive in the waters of Baptism. From those life-giving waters, sin and death have been conquered and we are made children of God by adoption. We become inheritors of the gift of everlasting life and bear of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

On this night, we move from darkness to light, from death to life and from sadness to glory. By the gift of faith we have received we are given a new strength and courage to be witnesses to the saving power of Jesus Christ which fills of with a deeper love and a sure hope that God will not abandon us. You are who Elect are about to receive the greatest possible gift a human being can receive, a new rebirth to a real life and a sharing in the divine life of Jesus Christ.

What is this divine life that you are about to receive? God wishes to take the central place in your heart and reshape your whole life in the shape of the cross. It is by the cross that we are taught the true meaning of God’s love and tonight you are to be given the gift to take that love on you self. It is a love that enables you to worship God with a pure and undivided heart. It is a love that focuses you on the care of others and a dedication to service of God and neighbor in the world. It is a merciful love that turns you to depend on God for all things and seek his forgiveness when you have sinned. Lastly, it is a courageous love by which you are committed to share this pearl of great price, this personal meeting of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit with others and with your fellow Christians as a way to encourage others in this life who are lost and seek direction.

You have sought the Lord and tonight you are told in Mark’s Gospel that he is alive. He has been raised from the dead and brings the whole into new relationship with God the Father. You have found him in his Mystical Body the Church, of which you are about to become a member. You will share with us the Body and Blood of the Lord and the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit.

You serve not only as a witness to the world of the saving power of God in your life, you serve also as a witness to us “old-timers.” You know that the Christian life is one that is filled not only with great joys and loves, but also with great sacrifices. We live in the world in which the Christian faith is mocked and persecuted and our brothers and sisters are being killed for simply professing and living the Christian faith. You faith renews ours and your zeal reminds us of the fire of a vibrant and spirit filled life. We welcome you to the banquet of the Lord and the way of his glory. As you become sharers in the resurrection and new life of Christ tonight, do not have fear. The love of God you receive in the waters of rebirth and confession of faith will remove your doubts and bring a whole new life to your soul.

Holy Thursday Homily 2015

Filed under: Blog — admin at 3:56 pm on Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holy Thursday Homily

People today are always on the run. They try to accomplish many things at the same time and often they are catching themselves coming and going. The book of Exodus this evening speaks of eating Passover meal with your “loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand. You shall eat like those who are in flight.” Are the Israelites doing this because they are too busy? Do they have time management problems?

The answer to this is, of course, no. God reminds the people that they are only visitors in this world. They are simply passing through and will one day arrive at the permanent place, life with God in heaven. This world is not an end in itself, but a path to a greater life. That greater life though has been derailed by sin. We cannot get ourselves on track. We are held in the terrible grip of slavery to sins and selfishness.

On this Feast of Holy Thursday and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus himself is opening the door for us to the greater life that his death and resurrection will bring about.  The Bread that is used at the Passover is unleavened, called the bread of affliction. It is hard and tough to chew, but it nourishes just as well. Jesus gives us the bread of affliction at the Passover because we live in affliction in this world. Things do not always work right. We have setbacks and failures and struggles. Faith is a constant challenge for us. But these are not to stop us. By us giving us his Body, this bread of affliction becomes for us the Bread of Life, the food that is his very life, that gives us the grace to endure and to overcome and to prosper especially when we are weary and fearful. Jesus gives us the Holy Eucharist so that we do not give up.

He also knows that for this food to continue, he needs to provide those who share in Christ’s life in a unique way. So on this night he institutes the sacrament of Orders, the holy Priesthood.  These men are his shepherds who feed, lead and protect the flock of the Church. They are given through the Holy Spirit and the laying on of hands the authority to heal, teach and forgive in Christ’s name to encourage them on their path of faith. The mission to which the priest is called is to make of himself an offering in the person of Christ for the people entrusted to him, so that they will be kept safe in this dangerous world and provided with the gifts necessary to continue on through this passing life with joy and hope.

Finally, Jesus gives his disciples the Great command:  love another as I have loved you.  His followers are not to rely only on their knowledge or their talents or their social connections. They are to rely on the love of God. This giving in love that is expressed in the Last Supper has now become the measure of what it means to be a Christian in the world.


The mission given to every believer is the same, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus gives us this mission because of the struggles we face in life. We have not been created to face them alone. We have not been abandoned to fend for ourselves. Jesus makes this crystal clear on this night. He gives us each other and makes it possible for us not only through his example, but by the power of the Holy Spirit

Jesus is changing the world tonight. He is changing how he is going to be with us. He makes it clear that in the suffering and death he is about to endure, he takes it up freely out of love for us and for the Father. God loves us enough to die for us. He keeps our souls strong as we move through this world by feeding us with his own Body and Blood.  He is opens up the door to a new life with him to help us focus on what lasts, so that we do not get distracted by the passing things of this world. Let us take this time tonight to keep watch with Jesus, so that as the world changes, and the storms continue to blow we can remain faithful to him so as to reach our goal: everlasting life.



Templates for 40 Words of Jesus pamphlet

Filed under: Blog — admin at 6:38 pm on Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I have attached the two pages for the 40 Words of Jesus Lenten devotion. You can download it as a Word file and then copy the pages back to back to create the foldover. If you wish to make multiple copies, be careful in cutting them up because the margins are not even.

Forty Words of Jesus2015 A

40words of Jesus2015B



Christmas homily 2014

Filed under: Blog — admin at 10:22 pm on Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas  2014

There are many people today who think that everything in the world can be fixed with one of two things, Duct tape and WD 40. If it moves and you don’t want it to move- use the duct tape. If it is supposed to move and it won’t- use the WD 40. Many of us may have used one or both as we put up our Christmas decorations this year do things around the house. But WD 40 and Duct Tape can only go so far. Maybe there is something else needed in the world to make things work better.

There are things, spiritual realities, that duct tape and WD 40 won’t help. How do you fix a broken heart or calm the craziness of life these days, or stop the fights among family members, or the violence in the world?  How do you make happy moments last? How do you keep your marriage strong or your children on the right track? We try and we succeed. We try and then we fail. We believe that it is all up to us to make things happen and it is a challenge. We can feel ourselves to spiritually poor and weak. We might feel like those shepherds, alone and isolated. Overwhelmed with responsibility and underwhelmed with solutions. Tonight we discover something different.

The prophet Isaiah tells us that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. God is announcing to us through the angels some life changing news-Good News, Glorious News. “You have never been alone. I will now give you my Son to show you the meaning of love and to BE the meaning of love. He will open up your life that has been closed and hardened by sin and fear.” He will save you from sin and death. He will pour into your heart the Holy Spirit of his Truth. This Truth is life-giving, creative, encouraging and real.

Jesus, the new born Son of God, reaches out to us with human hands and loves us with a human heart. He knows our hunger and thirst and love and dependence.  He is born into the world and placed in a manger as a poor infant, dependent on the love and care of his parents. He has been born to make possible for us new way to live in the world. His way is one of faith and love of God, and loving your neighbor as yourself. His way seeks to unite our anxious, wounded and joyful hearts into his heart. His way is one of humble service and compassion.  He will grow in wisdom, age and grace and then preach about the kingdom of his heavenly Father. He will go from laying on the straw and the wood of the manger as an infant to be nailed to the wood of the cross as a man so that God’s true gift of his everlasting love will be revealed to the whole world.

God comes to us as a child to teach us two important lessons.  The first lesson is that the poorest people in the world are those who do not know and experience the full love of God in Jesus Christ. That is why God comes to us first. We are the poorest of the people. We have the gift of faith, but we don’t nourish it. We know God is real, but we do not make time for him in our lives. We know what Gods asks from us, but we keep putting off change.  The knowledge and friendship with Jesus Christ that we remember as we see this new-born infant shows us that God has not given up on us, but has reached out in the most human way so that we could touch him and be raised to share in his love that surpasses all earthly joys.

The second lesson of this Holy Night is that God has put himself personally into our hands so that we become a manger ourselves for the Body of Christ. He comes to us as a God Himself, veiled under the humble appearances of Bread and Wine so that he can bring us comfort, courage, hope and the desire to love Him even more. If the manger of our hearts is not used, but left empty, it is no wonder we feel empty ourselves. It is no wonder that we listen to those things which will ultimately harm us and tear us apart. It is no wonder we have trouble comforting others when we have felt so little heavenly comfort ourselves.

This great Feast of the Incarnation of the Son of God shows us the love God desires to pour out through Jesus in the Sacraments of his Body the Church. It also teaches us that the answers to the greatest challenges we face in the world cannot be solved by a roll of duct tape and a drop of WD 40. We find our answers in Jesus Christ. We find our path in life by daily prayer, living the moral teachings of Jesus Christ, receiving his Sacraments and telling others about our faith.

We find the answers as the Church, as we face the Lord together in gratitude tonight for the lives we have been given and pray that the Holy Spirit who overshadowed Mary will also overshadow us and give us the courage to embrace Jesus the new born Son of God, and never let him go.

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