Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Homily Podcast



Homily 319 – You Have Been Warned – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 7th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Marking Doors with Passover BloodIn the Old Testament story of the Exodus from Egypt referred to in our First Reading today, God’s chosen people are safe from the Angel of Death. They were warned ahead of time of this approaching 10th plague. Having followed God’s instruction, they watched the Angel of Death “pass over” their houses while the first-born of the Egyptians all died.

In a similar manner, Jesus gives us a warning in today’s Gospel so that we too might be prepared and safe. In this case, it’s not the Angel of Death who is coming but, rather, Jesus himself who will return in glory. On the one hand, Jesus tells us that we shouldn’t have to be afraid of this day, “Fear not, little flock.” Yet, he also warns us that we need to be prepared. If we put off turning away from our sins and taking seriously our relationship with God, then we will have much to fear when Jesus returns “at an hour you do not expect” and finds us unprepared.

Homily 318 – Learning to Pray the Mass – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 24th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass“Teach us to pray!” This is the request Jesus gets in today’s Gospel. When we think of learning to pray, we might call to mind learning our basic prayers when we were young: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, or and the Glory Be. Yet, it seems like Jesus is being asked something deeper than this. The apostles often saw Jesus in prayer, wrapped in intimate conversation with his Heavenly Father. This is what they wanted, to have that kind of relationship. More than just memorizing the words of set prayers, the essence of our prayer is a relationship with God.

One of the most important prayers, the one in which we are most in union with God, is the prayer of the Mass. I’m not referring to one specific prayer, but rather understanding the entire Mass as prayer. The Second Vatican Council called for the faithful to have “full, conscious, and active participation” in the Mass. Today’s homily shows how this participation is primarily internal rather than external and gives some practical ideas of how to be more active in our prayer at Mass.

Homily 317 – Be Prepared – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 17th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Fr. Shawn BackpackingThe famous motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared.” This admonition is deliberately vague, meaning that a scout should be prepared appropriately for anything. New scouts (and leaders) often get the practical details of the this wrong by bringing way too much stuff on a campout. Experienced scouts know how to be prepared by bringing just the right gear and knowing what they should leave behind.

In today’s Gospel, Martha seems incredibly prepared to welcome Jesus. She has thought of all the details of hospitality. Yet, Jesus reminds her that she is “anxious and worried about many things” and that “there is need of only one thing.” She is so busy with preparations that she misses the most important thing, Jesus himself. Like a good scout, Mary knows the secret. She is prepared for exactly what she needs most at the moment. She knows to “keep the main thing the main thing” and leave other details aside for now.

So maybe today you need to do a little “shakedown” as we call it in the scouts and see how much extra stuff you’re lugging around in your backpack. Put Jesus first and you’ll be prepared for anything.

Homily 316 – Lessons from a Scholar of the Law – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 10th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Jesus and a LawyerNormally, when a “Scholar of the Law” is mentioned in the Scripture, he’s not held in a very favorable light, at least not by Jesus. Yet, in today’s gospel, one such lawyer has a very interesting encounter with Jesus. Perhaps it’s party because I just spent three years studying very hard to become a “scholar of the law,” but I think this guy in the gospel today is actually one of the good guys. I think there are a few things we can learn from him. Today’s homily focuses on three things this lawyer does that we all would do well to imitate.

Homily 315 – A Scout Is Brave – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 3rd, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Chapel at BartleLast week at the beginning of camp at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation in Osceola, Missouri, I talked about the importance of loyalty, the ability to stick by our commitments. This week’s homily at the end of camp focuses on the 10th point of the Scout Law, “A Scout is brave.”

Loyalty and fortitude are great virtues for keeping us on track. However, it is possible to be loyal a committed to goals that are in fact pretty small. In order for loyalty to have it’s greatest effect, we have to make big goals. We have to dare to do more than we thought we could. We have to be willing to take risks. For this, we need bravery.

On this Independence Day weekend, we especially note the bravery of those men and women who have fought in our armed forces defending our freedom. We look to the next generation and ask who might be willing to be brave enough to serve. Looking at our readings today, we most especially ask, “Who is brave enough to risk every, to leave it all, for Jesus?”

Things the Supreme Court Got Right

June 27th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Pro-Life at Supreme CourtMost people who care about the lives of unborn babies and their mothers recognize today’s decision by the Supreme Court as a setback. It was. It is just the latest in a long string of bad decisions all based on the lie that some people are not people and others have the right to kill them when they are deemed inconvenient. Despite the depravity that led to such a decision, in a strange sort of way, there are some things you could say that the court technically got right.

Buildings where abortions are performed are not medical facilities. Any pro-life person could have told you this. When former abortion facilities are acquired by pro-life groups, the buildings are shown to more closely resemble an animal slaughterhouse than anything related to a medical facility. But today the Supreme Court agreed with the pro-lifers. Texas is not allowed to regulate buildings where abortions are performed as if they were actual medical facilities.

Abortion is not a medical procedure. Texas tried to regulate abortion as a type of surgery. The Supreme Court said, “no.” Having a mole removed is surgery, but having knives and a vacuum cleaner shoved into your womb to rip the limbs off a baby is not. It cannot be regulated as surgery. And they’re right. Abortion is not surgery; it is assault. Likening it to any medical procedure is an insult to real medical professionals. Any pro-life person could have told you that, but today the Supreme Court agreed. Abortion cannot be regulated like an actual medical procedure.

People who perform abortions are not doctors. While people who perform abortions have some knowledge of anatomy, useful for making sure all the body parts are accounted for after the “procedure,” they use this knowledge in the same way any serial killer would use anatomical knowledge to know the best way to kill his victims. Clearly abortionists are not doctors, and today the Supreme Court agreed. Texas is not allowed to require abortionists to meet the same standards that real doctors would have to meet.

More conclusions could be drawn, but at least these three things stick out as the logical conclusion of what the court said today. Perhaps the saddest thing we learned was that a large number of women remain so deceived that they actually cheered for this decision. Imagine an airline company going to court over and over fighting for the right not to have to follow safety standards that all the other airlines follow. They complain that if they had to spend all that money to make their planes safe that it would hurt their profits. Then imagine parents cheering as they gleefully fight for the right to send their young children on these doomed airplanes. This is what the abortion industry is doing and this is what we are doing to scared, pressured, teenage girls every day. Sending them into an abortion mill is putting them on an airplane that you know will crash, killing the baby on board, at least wounding the mother for life…and cheering for it. Demonic.

Although today’s decision is of course wrong on the whole, there is something right about it. No one would expect Auschwitz to meet the standards of a surgical facility, nor the guards to have proper licensing as doctors. Most don’t like to talk about it, but people know what goes on in places like Auschwitz, and certain laws just have to be overlooked because places like Auschwitz are “necessary.” In our day, we have decided that places for the committing of abortion are likewise necessary. In light of that, it does actually seem kind of silly to think we would try to regulate what goes on there, as if it were actual medical care. People don’t get sent to Auschwitz for medical care and that’s not why they go to abortion facilities. The goal of both places is death.

Today the Supreme Court gave us some clarity about what abortion is not. The buildings where abortion is committed cannot be regulated as medical facilities. The procedure itself cannot be regulated as a medical procedure. Those who commit abortions are not to be regulated like real doctors. Maybe by admitting all the things that abortion is not, people might finally begin to realize what abortion is. Maybe all the wrong in this decision could actually help us realize what is right.

Homily 314 – A Scout Is Loyal – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 26th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Mass at BartleMany people today are afraid of making commitments. There seems to be a fear that if I commit to something then I’ll be missing out on something else. Many express a desire to “keep all my options open.” Yet, the secret to real happiness in life is not keeping our options open, but finding something worthy of a commitment and then giving it our all.

The ability to stick by our commitments is the essence of the second point of the Scout Law, “A Scout is Loyal.” In this homily, given at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation in Osceola, Missouri, I explore the importance of loyalty and the Christian virtue of fortitude.

Homily 313 – The Importance of Miracles – 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 5th, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Sistine AngelOne day as I was visiting the Library of Congress in Washington, I noticed an exhibit on “Thomas Jefferson’s Bible.” I was very intrigued to see this relic, looking forward to what margin notes the founding father might have written. Instead, I found that what Jefferson had done was to take the Bible from different languages and then literally cut it all to pieces so as to save only those parts that he thought “actually happened.” Not making the “cut” were all of the miracle stories, including today’s gospel. The result was a book he called “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” Disappointed, I realized that this “bible” was really no Bible at all. It wasn’t even “good news.”

You see, Jesus wasn’t just some moral teacher who’s life we could imitate on some intellectual level of appreciation. You just can’t take the “teaching” of Jesus and then ignore all those parts about being God and doing things only God can do. Perhaps even more than anything he taught, it was doing the miraculous that most attracted people to Jesus. Miracles revealed not ideas, but a person; they revealed who Jesus really was.

Given the important role that miracles played in attracting the first Christians, how strange would it be to think that we could come to know and follow Jesus without miracles. A lot of people today tend to think of the miracles of Jesus as something of the past, or just unnecessary, or even fake like Jefferson. Maybe this is why we don’t experience them as much. We don’t expect miracles, so we often don’t see them and, worse, we don’t even ask.

In today’s homily, I look at the first reading and the Gospel, both just your average “raising from the dead stories” (ho hum) and then even consider a time that I prayed for a miracle and God sent me an angel.

New Assignments from the Archbishop

May 22nd, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Effective July 1, 2016, Archbishop Naumann has appointed me as follows:

Defender of the Bond – Archdiocesan Marriage Tribunal
Pastor – St. Philip Neri Parish, Osawatomie
Pastor – Sacred Heart Parish, Mound City
Pastor – Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, La Cygne

I will be continuing as Archdiocesan Scout Chaplain

The Catholic World of Maurice Duruflé

May 2nd, 2016, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Rouen CathedralI spent yesterday afternoon driving back and forth across Washington in pursuit of some really wonderful music. After the noon Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, with its always amazing choir, I quickly scooted off the the University of Maryland where the Marine Chamber Orchestra and UMD Symphony Orchestra were combining for a concert of music inspired by World War I. Still applauding the end of this magnificent concert I quickly jumped back in my car and headed to the Kennedy Center where the Washington Chorus was performing an evening of French sacred music.

Two of the major works on the program were by the great composer and organist Maurice Duruflé. The first half featured his Messe “Cum Jubilo and the second half his most famous Requiem. Some secular directors might try to distance these sacred works from their proper Catholic context (as a guest conductor with the U.S. Army Band did at a recent concert where O Magnum Mysterium was described merely as “An inward looking piece” with no mention of Christmas or even religion at all…but I digress). Such was not the case yesterday with director Julian Wachner. He went out of his way to explain how the music of Duruflé was liturgical music and its context of the Catholic Mass. At one point, seeming almost taken up into the beauty of the liturgy, he asked the audience to picture the “gold vessels, incense, gorgeous vestments, and a cathedral with 6 seconds of reverb…” finally declaring, “This music just sounds so…so Catholic!”

I was struck by how much the soul was made for this beauty and longs for it, even when it is so hard to find these days. The music of Duruflé and Fauré are today more likely found in the concert hall than the cathedral. What a travesty that we’ve lost so much of what sounds and looks “so Catholic” in the modern world, all in the name of “progress.” In addition to the description of maestro Wachner, I was particularly moved by the program notes on the life of Duruflé and the context that gave rise to this beautiful music. Consider the following notes from Dennis Keene and see if you don’t long for this…and weep for its absence:

It was Easter Sunday, 1912, and young Maurice Duruflé and his father were traveling from their home town of Louviers to the great city of Rouen. It was the most exciting trip the ten year old boy had ever taken. One can almost imagine his eyes bulging as they arrived in that great metropolis and came upon the huge and ancient gothic cathedral. What a day he must have had, getting the grand tour, including a visit to the boychoir school and a talk with its director.

But his excitement at all this was completely dashed at the end of the day when his father informed him that he wouldn’t be returning home, but, starting that very night, living there for the next several years! In Duruflé’s own words, “I needn’t say what was my reaction. That night in the dormitory I sobbed on my bed.”

Fortunately, the kind choirmaster of the Cathedral heard the boy crying, and raised his spirits by telling him of all the exciting things in store for him how he would get to study music all the time, be a part of all the great High Masses and ceremonies of the Cathedral, and one day play the organ. Duruflé said of this turning point in his life, “A great page opened in front of me.”

And what a page it was! His life for the next six years was centered on one of the glories of France, the Cathedral of Rouen. Built in the 1200s, the magnificent cathedral had attracted countless visitors down through the centuries. One famous visitor, Claude Monet, was painting his famous Rouen Cathedral paintings just eighteen years before Duruflé arrived.

Although life at the choir school was strict (up at 6:00 every morning, no heat in the dormitories, prayers at 6:30, studies and rehearsals all day) young Maurice was thrilled by all the musical activity and he was quite overwhelmed by the great liturgies of the Cathedral. His years there were to have an extraordinary influence on him, arguably the single strongest artistic influence of his life. For the world of the Gregorian chant, its melodies, modal harmonies, the rise and fall and supple contours of the lines, and the spiritual and mystical aesthetic-this special world remained at the core of his artistic soul for his entire career.

Every morning of the week the choirboys would study and rehearse the chants for the upcoming Sunday. There were evening rehearsals as well, when the boys would be joined by tenors and basses. On Sundays they sang at the High Mass in the morning and Vespers in the afternoon. At the end of the Vesper service was the liturgy of the Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament, for which the Rouen townspeople packed their ancient cathedral week after week. Duruflé described the grand procession as follows: it was led by two Swiss men in specially designed uniforms, followed by the boychoir, then fifty seminarians, dozens of canons and clergy of the cathedral, all dressed in white and grey ermine, and finally by a large velvet canopy under which processed the Archbishop carrying the Holy Sacrament. Directly in front of the canopy were eight thurifers-men carrying pots of incense which they waved regularly, creating great clouds of smoke. This was the kind of ceremony he lived with every week during this part of his life. And it is important to remember that the central musical component of this and all other liturgies was Gregorian chant. This influence was to become a part of his very being.