Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Living the Liturgy of Holy Week

Posted: April 18th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Last night on Palm Sunday in Most Pure Heart of Mary Church, I gave a special presentation on the liturgy of Holy Week. The audio of that talk is now available below. Have you ever wondered what the Easter Vigil is all about? What is the history behind the Washing of the Feet or the Veneration of the Cross? Holy Week contains many rites that are celebrated only once a year and sometimes need some explanation. Listen and learn the meaning behind these special days. Learn how to pray with the Church during this holiest of weeks. I offer many spiritual and historical insights that will help to make this Holy Week the most meaningful week of your year.

The talk lasts about an hour with 15 minutes of audience questions at the end. If you want to jump to a particular point in the talk the time indexes below can be used. May God bless you and our Church during this Holy Week.

0:00 – Introduction
16:26 – Holy Thursday
29:05 – Good Friday
41:07 – Holy Saturday
1:07:03 – Questions

Homily 152 – Palm Sunday

Posted: April 17th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Blessing of Reconstruction

It was Palm Sunday 1865 and General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee were meeting at Appomattox Courthouse to officially end the Civil War. Grant was the conquering victor. Lee suspected that he would probably be executed for treason. Although Grant had all the power and could have completely crushed Lee’s army, he opted for a different route.  Imagine Lee’s surprise when he is met with a handshake and respectful greeting from Grant. After some friendly conversation Lee surrendered. Rather than imprisonment, trials and executions, Grant merely instructed Lee that his army must promise not to fight any more and they could return to their homes in peace.

Lee himself had chosen surrender because he knew that, while fighting remained possible, it would lead to countless deaths and only a slim chance of victory. Grant knew that the desire of many in the North to punish the South would only lead to more hostility and the end of the union he had fought to protect. The humility of both of these men would eventually allow to the country to recover and become a unified nation after the war. However, none of this would have been possible without the humble example and direction of President Abraham Lincoln.

The month prior to the famous Palm Sunday surrender, in his 2nd inaugural address, Lincoln addressed those in the North who wanted to severely punish the South. He said famously that there must not be any additional spilling of blood. Rather the country must proceed “With malice toward none, with charity for all.” Rather than retaliation and revenge, Lincoln envisioned what would come to be called “reconstruction.” 5 days later, on Good Friday, he was shot by John Wilkes Booth. Booth thought he would celebrated as a hero. Instead, many in the South were angry at Booth realizing that he had killed the best friend the South could have had after the war.

In our reading of Passion today, we see the kind of violence and retaliation, the mob rule that Lincoln wanted to avoid. Although Jesus had all the power and could have summoned legions of angles to fight for him, he chose not to fight. He remained largely silent at his trial. God would have certainly been justified in calling an end to this “human experiment” of his, given the way we have treated him and his plan for our happiness. Yet, rather than retaliate and punish us, Jesus chose to save us. On Good Friday we killed the greatest friend mankind has ever had. Through his humility and his love for us, Jesus chose not to fight and thus accomplished the greatest event in history, the reconstruction of mankind.

Homily 151 – 5th Sunday of Lent

Posted: April 10th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Do You Believe This?

In today’s gospel we hear of the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. St. John makes it very clear that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Yet, when they are most in need and asking for his help, he instead seems to ignore them. When he does finally show up, seemingly too late, Martha and Mary both confront him in confusion and perhaps even anger, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died.”

When our prayers seem to go unanswered we can find good company with Martha and Mary. Yet, just as was true in the gospel, Jesus does in fact hear our prayers. If he seems not to answer it is only because he desires to bring about a greater good. Who could have imagined that Jesus would bring the dead back to life? Jesus promises us that he loves us and will do what is best for us. Ultimately, he promises us eternal life. The question for us is the same he asked Martha, “Do you believe this?”

Homily 150 – 4th Sunday of Lent

Posted: April 3rd, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

3 Types of Blindness

In today’s gospel we hear of the miraculous cure of the man born blind. Jesus uses to story to point out that there are ways much more serious than physical blindness that affect all of us. The first is a moral blindness caused by sin. It is hard to see the right way to go when stuck in the darkness of sin. Second is an intellectual blindness. Are we blind to the truths of our faith? How well do we really know Jesus? Finally there is a kind of blindness of charity wherein we are blind to Jesus Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. We pray that this Lent will be a time of purification and enlightenment in which we find ourselves prepared for the coming of the light of the world at Easter.

Homily 149 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 27th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Time to Kick the Bucket

Jesus never avoided difficult issues in his public ministry. In today’s gospel he is going right through the heart of the controversial region of Samaria where he encounters the woman at the well. Like the woman we often try to avoid our problems by going time and again to “wells” that will never satisfy us. Jesus promises to be living water to permanently quench our thirst. When we find Jesus we can joyfully leave our bucket behind at the well and live in the new freedom of Christ.

Homily 148 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 20th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Thank God for Mountains

We all love those experiences when we seem to be on top of a mountain in our faith. Everything seems so clear and God seems so close. That’s the gift that Jesus gave to Peter, James, and John in today’s gospel. Yet we tend to forget what it took to arrive at this experience. Climbing a mountain is not easy. It takes our effort. Even when we get on top, we know that we can’t stay there. Jesus didn’t intend for his apostles to just remain on top of the mountain. He had a mission for them. We all need those mountaintop experiences of God. Two questions remain for us. Are we will willing to do the work and what will be the result? We pray that this Lent might find us eager to draw close to God and that the result will be a greater desire to go out and spread the good news, to bring others to the mountain of God.

Homily 147 – 1st Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 13th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Temptation to Love

Temptation often seems to leave us frustrated. We ask God why he would allow such obstacles in our life. Yet in today’s Gospel we see Jesus freely entering into the wilderness to be tempted. He goes to do battle with the devil. While we too do battle with the devil, our temptations often come just from our fallen nature, our own human weakness. We shouldn’t get discouraged by temptation, even when we fail. Each time we are tested, it is an opportunity to tell God that we love him. If we had no freedom, there would be no temptation, but there would also be no love.

As you carry out the various Lenten disciplines that you voluntarily undertake this Lent, you might wonder how hard you should be on yourself. The thing about Lent is that there really aren’t any strict rules for “giving things up.” We abstain from meat on Friday’s of course, but beyond that…it’s up to you. So, how much and what to give up? It all depends on how much you want to grow and how many opportunities you want to tell God that you love him.

New Missal Translation Example

Posted: March 10th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

As I give talks on the new translation of the Roman Missal which we will begin using this Advent, people are often interested to know just how much difference there really is between the current translation and the new translation. In some cases, there’s not much difference. However, I think “Blessing of Ashes” prayer on Ash Wednesday gives us a pretty good example of why a new translation was needed. Below are the current translation and then the new translation. Note that both prayers are supposedly “translating” the exact same Latin text.

Current
Dear friends in Christ,
let us ask our Father
to bless these ashes
which we will use
as the mark of our repentance.

Forthcoming
Dear brethren (brothers and sisters), let us humbly ask God our Father
that he be pleased to bless with the abundance of his grace
these ashes, which we will put on our heads in penitence.
O God, who are moved by acts of humility
and respond with forgiveness to works of penance,
lend your merciful ear to our prayers
and in your kindness pour out the grace of your blessing
on your servants who are marked with these ashes,
that, as they follow the Lenten observances,
they may be worthy to come with minds made pure
to celebrant the Paschal Mystery of your Son.

This is just one example of how what we have been praying has in many cases not been a “translation” at all, but rather a redaction or even a new creation. With the new translation, English speaking Catholics will once again be able to know that the prayers we are praying are in fact the same ones being used around the world rather than our own special editing. Much more will come in the upcoming months.

Homily 146 – Ash Wednesday

Posted: March 9th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Today Is a Very Acceptable Time

Why do so many people seem to really enjoy Ash Wednesday and actual look forward to Lent? I think we all need to have that day when we are able to draw the line in the sand and head in a new direction. We get a glimpse of how much better we could be and we need a day on which we finally start. Today is that kind of day. We get a new beginning. This makes Lent not a season of sadness, but a season of hope. We hope for a future free from our attachments to sin. We pray for the new freedom of Easter and know that today can be that day when we really start to change our lives. If we’ve been waiting for just the right day to begin our new life, here it is. Today is a very acceptable time.

Homily 145 – 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: March 6th, 2011, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Riding the Walls

St. Ignatius teaches that the devil is like the leader of an opposing army that rides around the walls of a city looking for a weak point at which to attack. When the weakness is found it is there that the attack begins. Ignatius proposes that instead of allowing ourselves to be continually attacked we should instead go out and round around our own walls. Upon finding a weakness we should immediately begin to repair it and build it up. Lent is a great time for going out and riding around our walls. We seek to strengthen our weaknesses by taking on voluntary penances. If we challenge ourselves this Lent we will arrive at Easter with our walls in good repair and with much new strength.