Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Homily Podcast



Homily 215 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 15th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink


After observing Jesus and learning from him, today it’s time for the apostles to “go.” The word “apostle” literally means, “one who is sent” so it makes sense. However, Jesus also asks them to take nothing with them so as to build their trust in God. They are supposed to take a walking stick and sandals. This is a good image for the Church. We are a people on the go; we have a mission and we’re not meant to stay still. At the end of every Mass, the deacon or priest tells us all to “go.” The word “Mass” actually comes form the Latin word meaning “to be sent.” There’s a lot of going and sending implied in Mass. Today’s a great day to make sure we know our mission and then to get going.

Homily 214 – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 8th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Problem with Prophets

Most people tend to think of prophets as people who foretell the future. The biblical notion of a prophet is much different. A prophet is someone who speaks on behalf of God. Sometimes their messages are about the future, but most of the time they are concerned with talking to people about the present moment. The Old Testament is filled with stories of prophets. One thing they all seem to have in common is that it often doesn’t go very well for the prophets. They all end up ridiculed or dead.

The problem with prophets is that God doesn’t normally send them when everything is going well. Normally, a prophet is sent to say that God is not happy or that we need to change somehow. Not surprisingly, we tend to shoot the messenger. It’s a tough job to be a prophet. The interesting thing about the Christian life is that not only are we called to listen to the prophets that God sends us even today, but we are also called to be prophets. By virtue of our baptism, each of us is a prophet. That means we are to speak about God and bear witness to him by our words and actions, just like the prophets of old.

So how are we doing? What message does your life send? What kind of prophet for God are you?

God and the “God Particle”

July 7th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Higgs bosonYou might have noticed on the news this past week that there has been great excitement among particle physicists over the apparent confirmed observation of the famous Higgs boson. Scientists from all over the world followed live on the internet in the middle of the night when the announcement was made and were then seen drinking champagne and going crazy. Scientists don’t normally go crazy very often, so the average person would first of all probably assume that “these guys are nuts,” but then might think that “something big must have happened.”

As a fellow scientist, I feel for the excitement of of the discovery. However, as a bit of an outsider to the intricacies of particle physics, I am also sufficiently removed so as to be able to laugh just a little at the thought of a bunch of people in white coats going crazy over a “particle.”

With all that said, probably the number one reason that this discovery has received so much attention in the news is because the Higgs boson was previously given the nickname the “God Particle” (much to the disapproval of the scientific community). To the casual observer, one might think that this discovery has in some way proved that there is in fact no real “God” and that everything can now be explained as related to this “particle.” It’s an attention grabbing story, but it has nothing to do with the Higgs boson and how it got it’s nickname.

The Higgs boson is the last piece to be put in place completing what is known as the Standard Model in physics. It’s similar to what the Periodic Table of Elements is to Chemistry. For instance, if you have confirmed an element with 22 protons (Titanium) and also confirmed an element with 24 protons (Chromium), the “model” in Chemistry would speculate that there should be an element with 23 protons, even though you haven’t “seen” it yet. (fyi, Vanadium, atomic number 23, was in fact discovered in 1801). The reason that the Hiiggs got the nickname “God particle” was because all of the scientists agreed that it should exist, but no one could actually observe it. Test after test confirmed that, to fit the Model, the Higgs boson should in fact exist, it’s just that no one had been able to create an experiment that proved it.

Because of the fact that all the evidence confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson and yet it remained so hard to definitively observe and prove, some people compared this to the qualities of God. Hence the certain but mysterious Higgs became known as the “God particle.”

So what can the God particle tell us about God? Here’s the key for me. The whole process of “proving” the existence of the Higgs shows that science and faith really operate on systems that are a lot closer than people think. Look at the “scientific” process at work here. Because the physicists had such confidence in the Model they had proposed, they were convinced by the evidence that the Higgs boson existed, even though no one had been able to see or maybe ever would see it. One might say that they had “faith” in the existence of the Higgs boson. Science requires faith too!

Now some might object that “That’s not faith. They used sound reasoning and hard data to project the existence of the Hiiggs.” Exactly…and this is what faith does as well. Faith is not some random belief in something crazy that is illogical. Faith is reasonable. In the same way the physicists can make observations and apply their knowledge to form a model of physics, so we can learn about God and even arrive at enough certainty to posit a God-centered “Model” of the universe.

In the end, the Standard Model of physics was confirmed. The particle long-believed to exist has at last been “seen” and people in white coats everywhere are going crazy. If all this happens just for the discovery of a “particle,” imagine the joy when one day the God-centered model of the universe is confirmed and the long-believed to exist God is at last seen by all. People in white robes will indeed go crazy, and this time everyone will know why.

I’m on EWTN Radio Tomorrow at 4:00 CDT

July 6th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

I recently did an interview for the Vocation Boom show on EWTN radio and it is going to air tomorrow, Saturday 7/7, at 4:00pm. Since this is EWTN that means it will air GLOBALLY. That’s right, Shawn the Baptist will be heard WORLD WIDE tomorrow. Thanks to the Kansas City Catholic radio people at KEXS that passed my name along. They said I had the perfect face for radio. I’m touched, and hope people like hearing a little bit about my vocation story tomorrow.

If for some reason you think there is something more important than listening to your radio tomorrow at 4:00…here is the recorded version of my part of the show. May the Holy Spirit do something beautiful with this apostolate at Vocation Boom Radio and may many more young people respond to a call to priesthood and religious life.

Vocation Boom Radio Interview VBR1226 (Air Date 07-07-12)

Can I Be Anglican?

July 5th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Don’t panic. I’m not thinking about becoming Anglican and getting married and then converting back to Catholicism. N.B. That’s against Canon Law and doesn’t work. However, the possibility of converting to Anglicanism and then converting back to Catholicism became a little more enticing today for a different reason.

As you may know, Pope Benedict has recently created a process by which Anglicans can become Catholics and keep their liturgy and other practices that are important to their heritage. It’s called the Anglican Ordinariate and you can Google it for more info. Well…today the Holy See approved some of the “new” liturgical books that the “Anglican Catholics” will get to use. Basically, it’s the Book of Common Prayer as a basis. In addition to the beautiful English texts which our Anglican Catholic brothers and sisters now get to use, they were also allowed to use “their” calendar. See the full article here, but this paragraph caught my eye:

The Holy See has already approved a liturgical calendar for the ordinariates that includes Sundays after Epiphany and Trinity Sunday (rather than Sundays of Ordinary Time), Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sundays (before Lent), the Pentecost Octave, and Rogation and Ember Days. The use of the Revised Standard Version lectionary is permitted during Mass.

Now forgive me if I and all other liturgical geeks (that’s at least a dozen people) let out a collective “Hey, wait a minute!” For those not familiar with the history of liturgical changes made after Vatican II, one of the very sad things that happened was that the liturgical calendar was severely altered, leaving most liturgical geeks still in mourning (that would be at least 7 people). Now all of the sudden the Anglican Catholics get to use “our” traditional calendar because it’s their “heritage?” Let them have their married priests, but this is no fair.

Why can’t I use the Catholic->Anglican->Catholic calendar? (E.F. I know…I want English) If the Holy See allows this exception for one group, what’s next? Pretty soon they’ll be letting the Anglican Catholics celebrate Ascension Thursday on Thursday.

Archbishop Naumann’s Address to the Rally for Religious Freedom

July 2nd, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

We had a missionary preaching all the Masses at the parish this weekend, so no homily from Shawn the Baptist this week. However, for your reading pleasure I have something better this week. The following address was given by Archbishop Joseph Naumann on Friday at the Rally for Religious Freedom in Topeka. Enjoy.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Religious Freedom Rally
Topeka, Kansas
June 29, 2012

Quo Vadis? These Latin words translate into English: Where are you going? This phrase, made famous from a scene described in the apocryphal Acts of St. Peter, has become part of popular Christian legend in which Peter, fleeing Rome at the time of Nero’s persecution encounters the Risen Jesus. Peter asks Jesus: “Quo Vadis?” Where are you going? Jesus replies: I am going to Rome to be crucified.

This encounter reminds Peter of his cowardly denial of Jesus during His passion and crucifixion. Peter realizes that he is committing the same mistake again by abandoning the living Jesus in His Church at the hour of crisis. Peter turns around and returns to Rome where he is martyred.

Today in the Catholic Church’s calendar, we celebrate the Feast of the Great Apostles, Peter and Paul. I imagine Our Lord is asking the question of us and our country that Peter posed to him: Quo Vadis? Where are you  going America?

Where are you going America, when our own federal government attempts to limit severely religious freedom, the first constitutional right in our nation’s Bill of Rights? Quo Vadis America, when the current administration  attempts to narrow religious liberty to include only the freedom to worship? Where are your going America, when our government considers women’s fertility as a disease to be suppressed and pregnancy as a disease to be prevented? Quo Vadis America, when this Administration defines a religious entity so narrowly that Mother Theresa and her Missionaries of Charity would not qualify?

Americans have always understood the free exercise of religion to be the first and most precious right. Religious liberty for Americans always included, not only the right to worship, but also the right to live according to our conscience.

The arbitrary Mandates, promulgated by the Department of the Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Reform Act, are perhaps the most egregious threat to religious liberty in our nation’s history. The President’s so-called accommodations have changed and corrected nothing.

This Administration has deceptively attempted to portray the HHS Mandates as an essential measure in the provision of health care for women, feigning the existence of a crisis regarding the availability of contraception and abortion inducing drugs. They have attempted to demonize anyone who objects to this encroachment on religious liberty and conscience rights as waging a war against women.

The reality is that we are gathered here today to just maintain the status quo, not to advance any agenda. It is the Administration who has chosen to pick this fight at this particular time. It is they who are waging a war against women and men of Faith.

Why was there no discussion of these Mandates during the months of debate over health care reform? Why was none of this specified in the more than 2,000 pages of legislative text? Does anyone really think there is a crisis regarding the availability of contraception? For Americans, who desire contraception as a lifestyle choice, it is readily available and inexpensive. The federal government already spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually to give away free contraceptives to the poor.

The HHS Mandates are not about access to contraceptives. They are about the federal government saying to people of Faith that it is not enough that you live in a culture where contraceptives are readily available, where tax dollars are already used to provide them, where they are given out in some public schools to minors without parental permission. Now we – your government – are going to force you (the Catholic Church or any Church or individual Christian or person of Faith who finds contraception and abortion morally offensive) to participate in the provision of them.

Regardless, of one’s personal belief about contraception as a life-style choice, every American should be outraged at this assault on religious freedom. For if the federal government can do this to Americans, who believe contraception and abortion to be evil, then what prevents this same government from coercing other Americans to violate their deeply held moral convictions on any other matter.

The HHS Mandates are by no means the only threat to Religious Liberty in our nation. Several states no longer permit Catholic Charities to provide adoption or foster care services. Similarly, Catholic Social Agencies, who have longed distinguished themselves in their service to victims of sex-trafficking, are now being denied federal contracts because of our refusal to provide contraceptives and refer for abortion.

We are so blest as Americans. The United States historically has been a beacon of hope for the entire world on matters of religious freedom and conscience protection. Many individuals in our nation’s history have made heroic sacrifices in order to defend these precious liberties. They endured much more than standing for a couple of hours in this severe summer heat. We must not fail at this moment to exercise our citizenship and
make certain that our voice is heard.

Where is America going? Perhaps, the more important question is: Where, as Americans, are we going to permit it to go? Your presence here today demonstrates your desire to turn America around, to return it to the principles upon which it was founded and which made it great. You are here today because you want to protect and restore our first and most precious liberty.

Let the cry go forth from Topeka, Kansas to the President, to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to the Congress, to the Supreme Court, we will not accept, we will not acquiesce, we will not tolerate our liberties to be diminished or robbed from us. We will pray; we will advocate; we will vote; and we will never, never, never give up our religious liberty and conscience rights! Thank you and God bless!

Quo Vadis America – Rally for Religious Freedom

June 29th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Statehouse Rally for Religious Freedom

Today was an incredible day for the Catholic Church in America and especially here in our great state of Kansas. As soon as the HHS mandate was created, Archbishop Naumann sought to have some kind of national event to oppose this unjust law. Finding that no “national” event was planned, Archbishop decided we would create our own right here in Kansas. Today that vision came true as thousands of people from all over Kansas gathered in Topeka at the state capitol to peaceably assemble in opposition to the HHS mandate. Governor Brownback pointed out that today’s event was the largest rally ever held on the lawn of the Statehouse.

Governor Brownback Speaks

The 100+ temperatures no doubt kept many away, but also strengthened the witness of those that were able to brave the heat. “We’re not going away” as Archbishop Naumann put it so forcefully. In his talk, the Archbishop chose to focus on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul today and a story of St. Peter encountering Jesus on the road outside of Rome. Upon seeing the Lord heading into Rome from which St. Peter was trying to escape, Peter famously asked Jesus, “Quo Vadis” – “Where are you going?” Jesus indicated to Peter that he was going to Rome to give his life again for his people since Peter would not.

Archbishop took these famous words and posed them as a question to America. “Quo vadis America?” – “Where are you going?” In so many ways it seems that we have lost the vision of the founders that created our country. Many seemingly no longer believe in the values that have made us who we are. Who would have thought 200 years ago that we would become a country hostile to religion? The very reason for the existence of our country is inseparably intertwined with freedom of religion.Where are we going? If something is not done to reverse our present course then our country will not long survive.

Archbishop Naumann Speaks

For this reason, today’s rally was not just a fight for religious freedom, but a fight for the very soul of our nation. Throughout our history, Catholics have made this country great. Perhaps it now falls to us especially to play a key role in saving our nation.

Yet we are not alone in this fight. This isn’t just an attack on the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is simply the most visible target of the anti-religious forces at work in our society and government. The HHS mandate is an attack on all people of faith in our country and all those who believe in the founding principles established in our Constitution. It was such a blessing today to see so many of the rest of our Christian brothers and sisters gathered together in solidarity. One of the keynote speakers was a Baptist pastor and I was surrounded by many non-Catholics. I pray that this will be a great cause for working and praying together.

Bishops for Religious FreedomThe Bishops of Kansas in Solidarity for Freedom

Where are you going America? Looking into the future feels a bit like Scrooge being confronted with the “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.” The future can look dreadful from here, yet Scrooge himself prayed that these are “but shadows of what might be and not what will be.” Scrooge was given a chance to change, and change he did. Let’s pray that America can do the same, before it’s too late. Days like today give us all great cause for hope. Thanks to all who made the pilgrimage from the 4 corners of the state. The media won’t cover it, but today we showed that we’re not ready to give up on our country. May God multiply our efforts and let us see the fruit of our prayers.

Pictures from the Rally

I Always Wanted to See Paris

June 19th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

No, I am not blogging this from over the Atlantic. In fact, I am still in the Paris airport, now 5 hours after our scheduled departure with at least 2 more hours to wait. Maybe I should be thankful that we sat in the plane on the tarmac for 5 hours on the trip over. Now I can at least say, “It could be worse…we could be in the plane.”

Long story short, the plane broke, again. After thinking all day that eventually they would fix the plane, they finally gave up and are getting us a new plane. I hope it’s big, with lots of TV’s…and an exercise room…and a chapel…and a pool. This better be the world’s greatest airplane.

Obviously we are not making our connection in Atlanta tonight, so it looks like a hotel…if we actually leave. To everyone down at Boy Scout camp awaiting my arrival…just hold on…I’m coming. St. Joseph Cupertino, patron of those who fly, pray for us.

Delayed in Paris
That’s a 7hr and 45min Delay for Those Scoring at Home

The End of All Things

June 18th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Well…the end of the pilgrimage anyway. I write this morning sitting in Ben Gurion airport, listing to Abba’s greatest hits…go figure. Our group has split multiple ways now with some of the group currently in the air for home having left at midnight. 24 of us are here this morning having stayed in Tel Aviv last night and having woken up at 4am. For us, it’s Paris, Atlanta, and then home late tonight. A good chunk of the group is going onto Rome for two more weeks. Some are continuing onto France after that. My good friend Terry Sexton is really going whole hog and is doing Rome, France, and then going on to hike a couple weeks of the Camino Santiago after that just to make sure he fully qualifies for the title “pilgrim.”

I thank you all for following the blog on this amazing experience. Hopefully, you can see what a spiritual blessing a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is. Also notice that safety was the furthest thing from our mind here. I pray that perhaps through reading this blog you too will consider a pilgrimage to the land known as “The 5th Gospel.” I guarantee your life will never be the same. From the Holy Land for the last time, this is your friendly neighborhood blogger signing off.

Fr. Shawn the Electronic Angel
Fr. Shawn the Electronic Angel

Note: The blog will remain up “forever” and I encourage you to share it with others. Continue to follow me for weekly homilies and other musings. Note the link at the top entitled “Holy Land Pilgrimage” which details every day of my journey here in the Holy Land for almost 3 months in 2006-2007. God willing there will be many more entries on the Holy Land in the future.


Coming Down

June 18th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

This morning we had another amazing experience in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We celebrated Mass on Mt. Calvary at the Latin altar marking the place where Jesus was nailed to the cross. We know that at every Mas the death of Jesus is made present and the sacrifice of Calvary is renewed. To experience the Mass on Calvary is in a sense to experience it in a way even more real than in the upper room. This is my body given for you. This is my blood poured out for you. It all happened one Friday on this spot 2000 years ago.

Mt. Calvary
Mt. Calvary

One of the many places in the Holy Sepulcher that I find some powerful prayer is at the spot marking the place where our Blessed Mother stood watching Jesus on Calvary. It is slightly below the top of the hill and looking directly up to the cross. Mary could see Jesus clearly and he could see her. This was perhaps the one comfort he had on the cross, looking down and knowing his mother was there and then lovingly entrusting her to John. Through John, Jesus has entrusted the Church to Mary and she to us. Mother of Sorrows, pray for us.

Mary's Place at the Foot of Calvary
Mary’s Place at the Foot of Calvary

While the mount of Calvary focuses us on the cross and the pain and suffering of sin, one cannot help but notice how close the tomb is to Calvary and analogously how close Easter is to Good Friday. Coming down from Calvary I went to pray at the tomb and God gave me a big reminder of what John wrote in his Gospel. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” As I went to pray at the tomb I beheld a heavenly ray of light pouring down right onto the entrance of the empty tomb. The tomb is empty; the light shines into the darkness; Jesus has been raised. The entire mystery of our faith is all present right here in this church and received today in the Eucharist. This happens at every Mass! May we never underestimate the many graces available to us each day if we ask.

Light Shines on the Empty Tomb
Light Shines Into the Empty Tomb

After an early lunch came the moment to say goodbye to Jerusalem and start to head “down” and toward home. Before heading for Tel Aviv we were treated to two more important sites. First, we went up the Mount of Olives to the town of Bethany. This is the famous home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and the traditional beginning of the annual Palm Sunday procession. One of the sad things about Bethany is that when the Israelis built their separation wall, they literally cut Bethany right in half, including cutting some people’s homes in half. Bethany used to be part of Jerusalem, but now it is cut off and is basically a dump and the procession no longer exists. The one beautiful spot is the church which the Franciscans maintain.

Mary Lazarus Martha
The Famous Residents of Bethany

It was wonderful to have some time for prayer here in this place where Our Lord cautioned Martha about “the one thing necessary” and the need to sit and listen to Jesus. This church is also a witness to the greatest miracle of Jesus, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. There has been a church on this spot since the 4th century and you can still see the remains of the original church. I prayed especially for the victory of life over death. I always have to laugh at the scripture that says that, after Lazarus was raised from the dead, so many people were converting that the Jewish leaders thought about killing Lazarus. Umm…been there done that. See what power there is in the resurrection? When Jesus is Lord even of death, then what have we to be afraid of?

 Jesus Raises Lazarus
Jesus Raises Lazarus

Our final stop was at a town today known as Abu Ghosh. Mike kept it secret what this town was all about until we got there. It turns out that this is firstly the famous Old Testament town of Kiryat Ye’arim where the Ark of the Covenant stayed before there was a temple in Jerusalem. We saw it from the hill in Ein Karen on our first day, so we kind of ended where we started. However, the second famous name for this town in the New Testament is Emmaus. It was here that the disciples were journeying after the resurrection and Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread. We got to spend an hour here in prayer in one of the most beautiful churches we’ve seen. It was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century and has survived without renovation since. The acoustics were amazing and I enjoyed singing a hymn to Our Lady, the new Ark of the Covenant. It’s amazing to see how nicely things turn out when you build a church out of stone in a traditional manner. I wonder how many of our churches today will be around in 1000 years? The Crusaders really did some amazing things to restore the sacred sites in the Holy Land which were destroyed by the Muslims. May we have the same love in building up the Church and our churches the way they did.

Crusader Church of Kiryat Ye'arim
The Crusader Church of Kiryat Ye’arim

We finished our day with a special farewell dinner for our group. It’s amazing to see how a group of strangers can become family in just 12 days. Sometimes a pilgrimage helps us to realize what was true all along, that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We found these relationships important not just in our group but with our tour guides, bus drivers, and everyone we met. While it’s sad to see all the division in the Holy Land, I think our pilgrimage shows that we’re really not that far apart from anyone. Some day we will all sit down to dinner as family. Insha’Allah, may it be soon.

Farewell Dinner
A Family Farewell

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