The following homily was given by Bishop Caggiano at the Permanent Diaconate Ordination, June 29, 2024.

Please be seated and relax.

My dear friends, what a joyful morning it is for you and I, all of us here, sisters and brothers in faith, to gather around our three brothers whom God, in his loving providence and mercy, has called them to this moment in the journey of their life, supported by the love of their wives and their children and their grandchildren and all those who have walked with you, brothers, in this adventure that is your life, we all gather here with great gratitude to God, for he has called you into a great mystery. To to become living sacruments of self-sacrificing love, and to remind all of us by our baptism what we are to do, you will now dedicate your life to that, both in your ministry and, quite frankly, in every moment of every day that you will live. You know very well what it is the Lord is asking of you. And all of us in this church as well know know what this great sacrament of the Achanit is. Certainly, it is to be a servant. And so you are being called to join your brothers already ordained to be a servant of the word.

And as we said last night when we gathered for that beautiful dinner, so too, you are a servant of the word by the words you speak, but by the living testimony of your life. You are to become a living gospel. And from what I have heard last night, you are already doing that. You are very well prepared to be the herald of the good news of salvation, even in the moment or perhaps most effectively in the moments of great suffering, of great loss, of great pain, of great uncertainty. And then, of course, you are going to be the servant of the altar, not simply assisting the priest or deacon in the manners so that liturgy can be celebrated reverently. But remember, you are the sacrum of charity, and so you will bring to the altar all that the people of God share with you their hopes, their dreams, their challenges, their pains. You will be there interceding for them, praying for them, and bringing the Holy Eucharist to them, the sacred body, blood, soul, and divinity, the food of everlasting life. And then, of course, to be called not to be served, but to serve, to be a man of charity to your spouse, to your children and grandchildren, to your family and friends, to your coworkers, to your fellow parishioners, and wherever God takes you.

As I said before, you are already doing this well. And with the of God, you will do it in ways that you will be able to sit back and wonder at what God can do through frail human lives like yours and mine. But today, we gather, my friends, on a beautiful and singular feast day. We gather to join our voices with believers throughout the world and believers through all the ages. To honor the two great princes of the Apostles, the Fisherman and the rabbi, the one who was educated and the one who was a simple laborer, the one who was called the rock by Christ, as we heard in the gospel, upon which the entire church was built, and the one with the fiery sword and fiery tongue who went where others feared to go among the Gentiles. Together, you and I stand on their shoulders in this great symphony of faith whose first notes were sung in the empty tomb. For me to have the privilege to ordain you on the feast of Peter and Paul, the Apostles, reminds me of the great gift you will be to me and my successors. For like all your brothers in the deaconet, The relationship between the bishop and his deacons is a special one, a unique one.

May I dare say, a beautiful fraternal one. For you will become the marines of charity to go where I may ask, my successes may ask, and to follow in the footsteps of the fearless ones, Peter and Paul. But both have a lesson, and may I suggest that it is true for you and all of us in this church. For Paul was the one who said, When I am weak, then I am strong. He is the one who said, But for me, life is Christ and death is gain. For Paul was zealous for the law. He boasted of it. He was single minded in his devotion to what he believed Yahweh was asking him to do, even to persec the early church. And yet when he encountered Christ, his entire life changed. And that same zeal, single mindedness, then propelled him to do things which you and I, my friends, chances are, would not have the strength to do, to even be saved from the lion’s mouth, as we heard in second reading. And so today on your ordination day, Paul, from his celestial place, is reminding you, brothers, of single-mindedness. Your life now must be all about Christ, who is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, the Lord of the living and the dead.

And by doing that, it will free you to love your wives in a whole new, more beautiful way, your children and grandchildren in a whole new way, and God’s people in a whole new way. Because by giving up everything for Christ, we gain everything back and more. It is all about not about you, not about me, but about Christ. And Paul teaches us that. Then, of course, Peter, we heard today, you are the Christ, the son of the living God. He gives the first testimony of who Christ really is as our savior and redeem. And yet was he not also the one who said, I do not know him. I do not know him. I do not know him. And yet Peter was a man of great conviction. He was stubborn in the best sense of the word, and he recognized his frailty. He recognized his sinfulness. He recognized his faults and failings. And when Christ rose from the dead, you remember, Christ asked him, Do you love me? And three times made up for his betrayal, Yes, Lord, you know I love you. Then feed my sheep. Brothers, you have been called to something you are not worthy of, nor am I.

That you will look yourself in the mirror every day and realize there are a thousand reasons why someone else perhaps has better gifts and talents than you. And you will also always, like I do every morning and every night, confront my own sinfulness as you do yours. Remember the example of Peter. For Peter was chosen not because he was perfect, but because he was humble of heart, Because even in his stubbornness, he knew the voice of the shepherd, and he learned how to truly love. And so may Peter guide you. May Peter help you to unlock the true depths of your heart in humility of life so that you will love, you will love sacrificially, recklessly, generously, everyone you meet, and teach the world what service really means in Jesus Christ. Allow me to end by simply saying this, There was one who consol both Peter and Paul, one who was their advocate and guide, one who was their hidden strength. You know to whom I am referring, it is the great mother of God, the mother of the savior, and your mother, our mother as well. As you prepare to prostrate yourself here before us and to rise up to be ordained into this great sacrament, feel her love, her mantle, guiding you, wrapping you, protecting you, always, every time, all the days of your life.

For if you ever find yourself confused or doubting or discouraged, turn to her with the example of the Apostles, you, brothers, and you, brothers, and you, brothers and sisters, all of us have nothing to fear. Congratulations. And may God bless you all the days of your life through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The following is a transcript of Bishop Caggiano’s homily, given Sunday morning, June 9, at St. Augustine

My dear sisters and brothers,

I believe it is fair to say that every society and culture, perhaps from the beginning of recorded history, has valued the role and the health of our families as a building block for society. When our families are healthy, society is healthy. When our families are in crisis, so too is society. We live in a time when our families need our care. Please God, in the years ahead, it will be one of the major initiatives we will work on together as we seek the renewal of our diocese to strengthen our families. Our families are extremely important. And yet, there have been times in history where the families were not just extremely important, they were essential for the survival of individuals. And that, my friends, was very true in the time of Jesus. For in that age, where most people did not travel more than five or six miles from where they were born, in a time when there was no social services, no daycare, where families had to rely upon themselves for their own survival, I cannot overemphasize how important families were. For example, in the time of Jesus, most people did not use a last name because they identified themselves by their family and its genealogy.

I would be Frank, the son of Arnold, the son of Joseph, and you will go back enough until a person recognized to what family you belonged. It was fathers who taught their children their trade, the way to speak, how to write. It was parents that taught their children their prayers and brought them to temple or wherever they worshiped. It was families that bound together in a trade or employment and shared their wages so everyone could eat. When there was conflict, it was families that gathered together to protect their own. So that they would not be overrun in a time when laws were on the books, but they were not followed in ordinary life. Having said all that, let’s take a step back and appreciate the enormity of what Jesus says today in the gospel. When his family comes to him and he says, Who is my family? Those who do the will of God are mother, brother, and sister to me. Jesus is upending everything I just described, and it must have come as a complete shock to the people who are listening to Him. But you and I know, my friends, that the Lord did not say that to make us orphans.

The Lord came with His grace to strengthen our families, but rather what He was teaching them, and they did not understand, and you and I must understand, is that the Lord came to give us a second family, a family born in grace. You and I know that because if you look around this church, this is the family I am referring to. That in every community of faith, we are not just an assembly of those who have the same faith, but we are actually sisters and brothers in grace because our identity comes not from who my father and grandfather and great-grandfather were. Our identity in this family comes from Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection has given you and me the promise of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. And we come here to be fed by our heavenly Father so that we might have, through the sacred body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus, have the grace and courage to go out and feed one another. With the stuff of life. For when the family of the Church is healthy, there should be no one in the faith who is hungry or homeless or has nowhere to go.

And that the protection that this family gives to us is not the protection against the issues of the world, but we come here because the spirit of the Christ who has made us family gives us the protection of the Holy spirit against Satan and all his evil ones so that there is nothing that can harm us unto eternal life. If that is all true, which it is, then today, my friends, I’m going to ask you to accept some spiritual homework that I will give to myself as well. Because as is true for our natural families, so true for our church family. We can fall into two traps. Perhaps this coming week, you and I can spend some time doing an examination of conscience of where we need work. First, it is the world of commission. What do I mean by that? Sometimes you and I, through our sins, have actually hurt the family of the Church. How? By our gossip, by our judgmental attitude, by the fact that we have refused to forgive. When someone seemingly gives an offense to us, when that person may or not even know they offended us. In many ways, we can create the disunity that Jesus says is the work of the evil one, Beelzebub. It is not His work.

And so there may be in your life and mine things we have done that have not allowed the family of the church here at St. Augustine, wherever we may be, to be healthy, strong, and faithful in the power of the Holy spirit. And we must admit it, we must seek forgiveness for it, and we must try to make it up. Same is true in our natural families as well. And then there is the other side, which is not commission, but omission. The opportunities you and I had to make a difference in the life of someone else, and we let the opportunity slip through our fingers. Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps next week, procrastination. I’m embarrassed to go over and ask him or her. I mean, I’m not sure she even knows who I am. Or the excuse, Well, I’m sure someone else will help them, so why would I need to do that? Or they look sad, but I’m sure somebody at home is there for them. But do we know that? See, that is why we have We have two families. For the one cannot do, the other does on our road to heaven.

And so I ask you, my friends, in your homework for this week, as I promise to do in my life, what are the opportunities you and I have had which we did not take? And are we ready to accept the next opportunity and refuse to let it slip through our fingers? To to build up the family that we are in Jesus Christ. For allow me just to conclude by saying this, it is not enough for us to build up our natural families, as important as that may be, because natural families come now in all sizes and shapes. They need our strength, support, our help, and we will work to do that together. But that is not enough if we do not do the same thing for our family here in the church, in every parish and school, because it’s from here that we go out into that world and proclaim who we are, who we believe in, with whom we stand in allegiance. And if this family is not healthy, joyful, welcoming, charitable, seeking forgiveness, the face of God’s mercy, if this family, we are not that, how do we expect anyone else to come and join us?

The following homily was given by Bishop Caggiano at the June 1 Mass of Thanksigivng (Fairfield University)

My dear sisters and brothers in the Lord,

It was day three of the eucharistic procession, and I woke up with a grateful heart. And my feet were killing me. In fact, there were parts of my feet that were hurting that I didn’t even know I had. But nonetheless, day three, and all the graces that would come with it were before me. And as the other days began, that day, I found myself with the good people of St. Matthews in Norwalk and those who were visiting that wonderful parish, first to celebrate the Eucharist together, and then to have a procession to a place in a moment of grace that, I must confess, my friends, has transformed my life. For, as many of you know, near St. Matthews is St. John’s cemetery. And on that morning, we took our Eucharistic Lord to that place of rest for those who ate His body and drank His blood, and rest now in the sleep of peace. And it was remarkable to see the Eucharistic Lord being carried in the midst of rows and rows and rows who are awaiting His return in glory. And the words we heard in sacred scripture, in the gospel today jumped out and became, took a life in my own mind that, quite frankly, up to that point, I had understood, but not, perhaps so deeply felt.

Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood shall live forever. On that morning, the Lord, the eucharistic king, was claiming the living, the dead. It did not need a homily, a talk or presentation. It was a living catechism of who we are and what we believe in Jesus Christ. But it was not the only moment of a living catechism. We began that extraordinary period of grace in, in Bridgeport, where we walked from parish to parish, different languages, races, cultures, and liturgical prayer. And we hear the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians. Though we be many, we are one body in Christ again, an experience of grace, in the power of the Eucharist that did not need a speech or homily, for we were living our eucharistic faith. And then, of course, in all the other stops, if every single one of them was a moment of grace. And yet what remained stuck in my mind and burned in my heart is to see the faces of our young people, whether it was the young people of Colby Cathedral or St. Joseph’s High School or the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport, or whether it was in Fairfield with our young people from assumption or St. Thomas Aquinas School, or in Stanford, where we had the young people of Mater Salvadoris, Cardinal Kung Academy and the Catholic Academy of Stanford with their faces lit alive, joyful, laughing, bowing, waving their handkerchiefs in joyful jubilation, because they knew, even in their young hearts that this was not the bread the Israelites grumbled over. This was not just a sign or a symbol. They were welcoming their Lord, and in their young hearts were teaching those of us who are older, without speech, talk or homily, what it is to enter into the presence of the Lord and savior of us all.

And in those days, we were not only reminded, but we lived the power of walking together in faith, side by side, hand in hand, all of us making the Lord known in the world, whether it was in Greenwich or Ridgefield or wherever else we were led to go. For you see, my friends, we gather here to celebrate the great mystery of our faith. To enter into the death and resurrection of Christ, to receive His body, blood, soul and divinity. To be able to receive the foretaste of eternal life. And our renewal, which begins now in our midst, is not simply to learn our faith, but to live it and to proclaim it to a world that is starving for the bread of life.

You see, my dear friends, the church teaches us that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our life. And so we come here to ask for the grace. To do what? To train, to walk, run, leap to the summit. For if you think of our own world, and of course, I discovered this in this four days, you need to be fit to walk. And so we gather here not simply to say we have arrived at the summit, but to train in these years ahead in all the work associated with the one, so that we may run with hearts burning to the top of the summit, which is here every day of our lives. And so you have heard me say that that training involves that we recognize, in the 167 hours of our week, apart from the one sacred hour we spend together at Sunday mass, that we must train our minds to recognize the truth of Christ all around us and the beauty of our faith, to train our hearts so that we may stop in wonder and awe and recognize his power and grace even in the beautiful day God has given us today.

This is God’s gift to us. This is no mistake of nature. To be able to learn to get on our knees and to pray with fervor to pray with all our hearts for all the things that not only we ask for, for the things we give thanks for every day, and to train our wills, yours and mine, so that we might become ever more men and women of virtue, so that the grace of this eucharist can build upon it and help us to grow into the saints we are destined to become in the grace of our baptism, and to learn that not everyone can walk up to the summit. And so we will help each other to do that. And those who cannot walk will be carried every step of the way. And then you and I can dare to believe that there is a future to our church that is not chained to perhaps the sad episodes of the past, but a future to our church that will erupt in our own midst, in this county, in your communities, and in mine, erupt with a joyful song that we gather around the Lord who has not abandoned us, a Lord who has not left us to our own devices, a Lord who does not wave to us from the distance of the right hand of the Father, but is with us, abides with us, walks with us, caresses us, has mercy on us, calls to forgive us, will love us to the end.

And our task is to allow his abiding presence to transform our lives and come to the Eucharist. Running to the Eucharist, to this summit, every day of our lives renewed, recommitted and dedicated to allow every christian, every catholic, every person of goodwill to discover what we have discovered. So, my dear friends, I thank you for coming here as our large, richly diverse and beautiful diocesan family of faith. And let us ask for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon you and me, a new Pentecost in our midst so that we might burn, as the disciples on the road to Emmaus, burn with the faith a hope and a charity rooted in the Lord, who under the veil of bread and wine, truly, really, substantially and forever, is present in our midst, that we might proclaim Him crucified, died, risen, ascended, abiding with us and calling us to glory. For the Eucharist, my friends, is Christ the Lord, the master, the savior, and He who claims the living and the dead unto eternal life, to Him be glory, honor, thanksgiving and power, now and forever. Amen.

The following is a transcript of Bishop Caggiano’s homily, given Sunday morning, May 26, at St. Augustine

My dear sisters and brothers in the Lord,

As many of you know, I have a great love for astronomy. Since I was a little boy, when I would sit in the backyard of our home in Brooklyn, looking up into the night sky and imagining what was out there. Now that I’ve grown older, I’ve rediscovered that love and how much it animates my imagination, particularly in the last few years, with all that scientists have been able to teach us about the universe, just to consider, a single beam of light would take 96 billion years to get from one side of the universe to the other, and that’s the universe that we can see, for there is a universe that we could never see. And it gives rise now in the modern world among scientists to ask questions that they never asked before in any serious way. How is it possible to have creation so vast, so organized, so beautiful? How is it possible that we, you and I, exist on this small little planet among trillions of planets? What’s the ultimate cause and explanation? Of course, they’re beginning to whisper something a scientist perhaps before, would never have whisper, that perhaps the only explanation is that there is a God who is greater than it all.

But for you and I who come here in faith, that comes as no surprise. But we have recognized His presence. We know that God is alive, not because we look at the stars or we ask questions that perhaps we cannot answer, but because God himself has revealed His life to us in Christ Jesus, whom we know in our hearts is our Savior and Redeemer. Today, we celebrate with Catholics around the world, the Solemnity, the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. And what does that mean? It means, my friends, that the God who created all things, who’s the unmoved mover, who is the source and foundation of all creation, has told us that He is love itself. And love demands more than one. When Christ, the second person of the blessed Trinity, who is God, entered into the world, He taught us that truth, that God dwelled in the heavens, and yet he still walked on Earth, that God does not just create and become a stranger to creation, but deeply cares for all creation, most especially the highest of creation, which are those who are made in His image and likeness, every human person. That the same God who holds the universe in His hands was the one who died on the cross so that you and I might have life.

Talk about wonder and awe at a mystery that is so deep and powerful that there are no human words to fully describe. It is the mystery we celebrate today. If that is not enough, consider, my friends, that that same God who holds all things, created all things, sustains all things, the same God who revealed Himself as love, who came into creation that He made so that you and I may recognize Him for who he truly is, who died for me and you. Lives in me and you. Consider what that means. That the God who is above all things, when He decided to find His home in creation, decided to make His home in you and me, in the power of His Holy spirit. My friends, how could it be that we are worthy to be the dwelling place of God? How is it possible that you and I and all who walk in his life could be the temple, to be the Ark, to be the place where He resides? How could it be possible that God would choose so unworthy a place as my heart and yours? But He has. And that is the fulfillment of that mystery because God wants us to share his life, not from afar, but inviting us into it.

And so what do we believe? That one day, my friends, we who were born poor, destined to die, will one day be rich by sharing in the very life of the God who created all things, sustains all things, who has come as the face of love in the world, and now wants us to rejoice in His life forever. If there is a mystery in Christian life that should cause us to close our mouths, to get on our knees, and to in wonder and awe, give thanks, it is this, that He who is love has brought His life to us, that one day we might have the fullness of love in Him. And so, my dear friends, in this summer to come, and it feels like summer this morning, as the summer comes, many a night, you and I may have to be able, please God, to have the time to relax and look up to the sky. Look at the trillions of stars we can see and not see. And in wonder and awe, stand before the God who is above all things, who sustains all things, who has entered into all things as love, and to stand in awe of Him.

But allow me to suggest that if you really want to stand before the wonder and awe of God, find a mirror, look into it, and see reflected back the place where this God has chosen to make his home.

The following is a transcript of Bishop Caggiano’s homily, given Thursday morning Mass at St. Augustine, to graduating 8th graders in attendance.

Good morning, everyone.

First and foremost, welcome all of you to the Cathedral here at St. Augustine’s. This, my young friends, is the mother church of the diocese, the oldest parish, and this is the church from which the entire unity of the diocese comes. For those of you who have never been here before, welcome home, for this is your home, and it will always be your home.

Allow me to begin by just offering you my personal congratulations. In a few weeks, I presume you will all be graduating and setting off to the next chapter in the adventure of your young life. I know I speak for everyone, your teachers, your principals, your parents, to say we are all very proud of you and all that you have accomplished. It was a lot. You’ve done it successfully through hard work and perseverance, and because many have loved you along the way and helped you. So congratulations. I also imagine, now maybe I’m wrong, but I also imagine that you’re coming to these last weeks of your elementary school education with some mixed feelings. Is that fair to say? I’m sure you’re excited about going to high school wherever you have chosen to go.

You’ll have much more to learn, experiences you would never have in elementary school. You will make new friends, and you’ll begin to forge your path towards college. And please God, whatever career God has in store for you, it’s exciting. But it isn’t also a bit sad, to be able to leave a place you have called home? Some of you, perhaps for eight, nine years, 10 years. Classmates you’ve grown up with, some of whom may be coming with you to the school you have chosen, and perhaps may not be. I’m sure everyone makes the resolution, We’re going to keep in touch, and we’re going to keep in touch, and we’re going to social media, and we’re going to keep doing, and we’re going to get together. I hope that’s true, but life sometimes gets in the way, especially when you start high school and realize you will have even more to do in high school than you ever had in elementary school. There is a bit of mixed feelings, and that’s normal. My young friends, this is perhaps the first great transition in your life. You will have many others as you get to my age.

You always have to remember that the Holy spirit is with you during this time to help you, to seize the opportunities before you, and to give thanks for everything he has given you up to this point. For graduation looks back and looks forward. Now I have to ask you a question. What are the things God has given you these years in elementary school? What are the gifts you bring to high school? I’m sure there are many. First, you’ve all had a first-rate education. You have learned and beginning to learn the depths of the truths of this world, which was created beautifully by God in a universe that is even more beautiful. You can spend your entire life learning more and more about the truths that govern the natural law, our lives, and the way God wants us to live together as sisters and brothers. You’ve begun to learn all that, and that’s a great gift. You’ve also have made friends. And some of you will be friends your whole life, which is a great gift. My closest friend I met in second grade, and we still keep in touch from prehistoric times to now. And then there is the gift of your faith.

For you came into school with your faith as a seed in your heart. And these years, the people who love you, your teachers and principals, have helped to water that seed so that you may begin to open your eyes to see not just the beauty of the world, not only the beauty of the universe, but the beauty of God’s life who dwells in you in the power of the Holy spirit. And that spirit, as I said, is always there, as your faith will always be the rock of your life. But there is one gift I want you to consider because there’s one gift you may not necessarily immediately recognize that you received these years. It’s the gift I want you to think about over the summer because it is extraordinarily important that you remember you have it and you use it so that high school is a happy, prosperous, joyful, fruitful time and not one that can lead you in the wrong direction. And that gift is wisdom. Because wisdom and knowledge that comes from books are not the same thing. You see, my young friends, you have learned many things about life, but you have also begun to learn how to live life and to live life well.

That is wisdom. And wisdom comes to us through the gift of the Holy spirit. It’s an intuition. It’s a way of looking at life. It’s a way of looking at the people around you. It’s a way of appreciating all that is as part of your life. It is a divine gift, and each of you have it since baptism, and those of you who are confirmed received it even more in confirmation. I want you to consider that it is there for you, and you are called to allow it to grow so that you can be truly successful, not just successful in the eyes of the world, but to be successful in the eyes of God. You may say, Bishop, well, what does that look like? What does that look like? You say, I have this gift and you want me to develop it in high school. But what does a wise person look like? Oh, my gosh, I could paint a picture. We’d be here till dinner. I’m just going to give you three examples. Example number one. A wise woman or a wise man knows that truth comes in many different forms. If I were to ask you, do you love your mother or father?

Do you love your grandmother or grandfather? Whoever else you may love in your life, that’s not something you can prove. That’s not something you can measure. That’s not something that the world says that you can demonstrate, like in a scientific test or hypothesis or a math formula. All those are important, but you know it. You know it. And wisdom is a person who seeks love, to love those around them, to do what’s good for them, even those you do not know, even those, believe it or not, you do not like, even those who will oppose you. You’re going into a world that wants you to believe if you can’t measure it, if you can’t If you can’t prove it, if you can’t buy it, it’s not worth it. You have begun to learn the opposite is true. The things of the spirit, the things of love, Those are what makes a person truly wise. It is no different that a wise person knows that your friends are not the people you choose just to hang out with. It’s not the people who happen to be in the inn who are the most popular, the ones that you walk with them and everyone thinks you’re the best thing since slice bread.

They’re great, lovely. They could be your friends. But a friend is someone you can trust, someone to whom you can tell your story of life and know that they will continue to walk with you. My mother used to say, a wise person, you want to know what type of person you are? Look at the friends you keep. When you go to high school, I’m going to ask you, remember Consider what you learned here in our schools, in your school, your elementary school. Choose wisely the people you spend time with. Make sure they are people you can trust, people who are interested in your good, people to whom you can truly speak from the heart, people who are your good companions, people who you can spend a lifetime together, walking through life together. That’s the difference between living like the world does, knowing what you think you could get out of someone and being wise. My young friends, you have every gift and talent you need to grow into women and men of great distinction, of great success. You are all capable of becoming leaders in the years ahead. God has given you those gifts, and through the love of your teachers, you have those gifts.

I’m going to ask you, as you celebrate your graduation, as you start packing up, as you get swept up with the excitement of the life to come, when you enter into high school, bring the gift of wisdom with you. Open your mind, your eyes, your ears, to all that you will learn, not just out of books, but from the hearts of those around you. And most importantly, my young friends, remember to pray every day, every day. Ask God to guide you, to accompany you, to make his presence felt in you, even when you’re challenged. Because if you want to grow in wisdom, prayer is the greatest way to do that. My friends, congratulations. As I said, we’re all very proud of you. And go on to high school and continue to make us proud of you as men and women of wisdom in the power of the Holy spirit.

Dear sisters and brothers,

I think it is fair to say that we live in a world that has great difficulty confronting, and even worse, having hope before the great mystery of death. Even in my own lifetime, the world’s language has changed. We no longer speak of someone dying where we say that he or she is passing. Many do not come to celebration of the funeral rites. They come to a celebration of life. And perhaps that is to be expected, because the world tells us also in subtle ways that there is no need for a savior or redeemer, because you and I are our own saviors and redeemers, the criterion of truth, the deliberator of what is good, that my life is all about me. But allow me to ask you, when we say that someone passes to, where do they pass? When we speak of the celebration of life as beautiful as that is, what would any life, my life, your life, our lives, what hope could they have if they don’t rest on a life greater than all of us combined? Perhaps the world has great difficulty confronting the mystery of death, but we are not of the world.

That is why we are here.

For you and I may have our own natural anxieties, not knowing the day or the hour when you and I will be invited into that mystery. But we gather here and have hope. Hope in the one who said, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall have life in me. You and I come here each and every time we celebrate the Eucharist to enter into the mystery of Christ’s own death and resurrection, and through the gift of His sacred body, blood, soul and divinity, to receive the grace and benefits, the fruits of the redemption He offers us, He himself embraced death. And so those of us who are His servants, His students, cannot expect to avoid it. But because He is our savior and redeemer, we can enter into the mystery with hope, because it will not have the last word. The Savior redeemer has the last word. And for those who follow in His footsteps, who seek the forgiveness of their sins, who have the courage to imitate Him and to follow His teaching, we can enter into the mystery of death with the hope that we will also one day open our eyes unto glory.

See, it’s interesting, my friends, the early christians had no difficulty with this. Recall that in the ancient church, when Christianity was outlawed, where did the christians gather but in the catacombs where they buried their own who died for the faith, for they knew that the church was more than what was visible around them, that there is a militant church walking the pilgrimage of life. But there’s also a penitent church, the church whose members have gone into the mystery of death and through the purgation, the purification that God offers in his mercy, will one day see glory. And then there’s the triumphant church, the church that are among the saints who are always here with us at every moment of every day and gather here to sing their voices of praise and alleluia to the Lord who has given them glory and waits for us to join them at their side. See, the ancient christians built their churches on the tombs of the martyrs because they didn’t run from death, but they knew death was the entree to the promises of the Lord. So it is most fitting, my friends, that today, in our small portion of the eucharistic procession that began at the tomb of Blessed Michael McGivney and will wind its way to Indianapolis, it is fitting that here you and I, sisters and brothers in faith, are going to process to the resting place of our parents, spouses, siblings, neighbors and friends, and we will walk there to invite them to join us in our great adoration of the Lord.

For they, too, are with us in the great communion of the church and in a world that wants us to believe that death is the end and therefore we must be afraid and run. We will sing our praises to remind the world that they are wrong and that death is the preamble to glory in Jesus Christ. Consider, my friends, one drop of the precious blood of Jesus Christ has saved the whole world. One fragment of his sacred body has saved the whole world. And you and I have the privilege to come every time at the celebration of mass to eat fully and deeply of His sacred body and blood as the pledge of eternal life. Who are we to have so great a gift? Who are we to have deserved and earned so great a merit? But the truth is, we don’t deserve it. We can never earn it.

It is graciously given to us by our merciful, gentle, and loving savior.

That is why the Eucharist is the heart of who we are, for it will bring us in God’s grace unto eternal life. And so, in anticipation of our procession after mass, of which I invite all who can, although it is a lengthy walk, all of you who can, to come join us. Let us pray. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

My dear sisters and brothers in the Lord,

As the day was approaching, when the Lord had already foreseen that he would freely give His life for the salvation of those who would believe in Him, He prepared to give His disciples two great gifts. And today we celebrate both gifts and how one is so intimately linked with the other. For my young friends, the first gift is what brings us to Sunday mass, what brings us here today. For as you know, on the night before the Lord offered His life for us, He gathered with His disciples in the upper room and shared with them a meal that was His heritage as a faithful jewish man. But He took that meal and transformed it into the sacrament of our salvation.

For in simple bread and wine, Jesus celebrated His Passover from death to life that would unfold in the days ahead. And each time we come to mass, you and I, in an unbloody way, participate in the one act, the one sacrifice that has set us all free, that dares us to hope that our sins will be forgiven if we ask in sorrow, and that the doors of heaven are open to every single one of us who is willing to walk with Him. My young friends, we come here so that we could receive the food of eternal life given to us by the Lord himself. An extraordinary gift. But as we just heard in the gospel, Jesus also gives us a second gift.

Moments before He literally handed over His spirit to the Father. His last great gift was his own mother, the Virgin Mary, the one who said yes to the angel Gabriel, the one whose yes allowed her son to enter into the world, the one woman above all others who had set the stage for our salvation.

You know, my young friends, all through the history of the Church, to try to understand the enormous importance of our lady, many people have used different images. One in particular I find absolutely beautiful, and I’d like to share it with you this morning. You know, my young friends, there was a time when there was no GPS, right? There was no Internet. For thousands of years, mariners who would travail the seas and the oceans relied on maps of stars and of the moon.

And it was those maps that allowed them to find their way home safely. The image of the moon has been used to describe the beauty of our lady for three reasons. As you know from science, the moon does not generate any light of its own, but it reflects the light of the sun that is hidden. But we see it because the sun is shining, and it reflects that sun. Number two is that the moon allows us to find our way when the sky is the darkest, where there is perhaps no other light to guide us.

The moon rises so that we have a path. And of course, in the end, number three, if you follow that path, generations of sailors found their way safely home.

You see, our lady is our spiritual moon. For our lady is the one, above all other disciples, who shone completely the light of Christ. Our lady’s life had nothing to do with our lady and had everything to do with her son, Jesus. Her last words were, do whatever He tells you, which is exactly how she lived her life. Everything about our lady points to the Son of God, whose light shines in the darkness of our lives, as she is present to us, us in the darkest moments of our life, so that she may lead us home to her son.

And our Lord knew that. And our Lord knew that we would struggle, all of us, through the ages, with our own sinfulness, with our own disobedience, with our own temptation to pride or to think that my life is all about me or that my opinion is what matters. He knew that we would all struggle. And so He gave us both the food of life and the woman who is our model and our lady, if you and I share her example, will lead us not only to receive the Eucharist worthily, but to see her son one day face to face. And as you know, when a mother loves her children, there is nothing she will not do for them.

And there is nothing our lady will not do for us. For you, my young friends, if you turn to her, because her heart is most joyful when you and I are one with her son, how blessed are we. How great are the gifts God gives us. Who are we to have the food of eternal life and the mother of all mothers who will lead us to glory? But that is who we are.

We are the Church. We are the disciples of Jesus Christ. We are the ones chosen by Him to carry His life and message and mission in the world. And today we celebrate the fact that we all have the same Mother Mary, mother of the church. May she lead us safely home so that one day we might all share in the glory of everlasting life.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano delivers the homily at May 18th Confirmation Mass, St. Augustine Cathedral

My brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Of all the thing we do in life, all the things we can devote ourselves in life, the one that matters the most, the one that we should love the most, the one that has the greatest value is to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, to be His disciple in the world. Because you know, my friends, as you are learning, that is the road to everlasting life. And I come to you to remind you that walking that road is not easy. It will demand hard choices, hard decisions, hard work. It will demand discipline and sacrifice. It will demand from you, from us, and from me that many times we will not do what we may want to do because we will choose to do what is right to do. And that, my young friends, takes a lot. That is why you’re here, because the spirit who is already alive in you will come again today, right now, and He will give you the seven gifts of His power so that you could make the hard choices, that you will be able to make the sacrifices, that you will take a step away from the crowd or the flow or what everybody else does, that you’ll be able to stand on your own two feet, as we all do in our Christian life, to live faithfully, whatever the cost may be, because you will never make those choices alone.

The Spirit will come with His grace and power so that you will be able to do what you know is right, even if you’re the only person who is doing it. You may say, Bishop, but I mean, I try to be good. I just try to say my prayers. I try to come to Mass. So what else could that look like? My young friends, I could give you many examples. Allow me just two. You are growing up in a world that is telling you the truth doesn’t matter. You’re growing up in a world that tells you the truth is only your opinion or our opinion, or worse, we are all being told that what’s politically correct, that what our politicians tell us how we should live is the truth. But you know differently. Look, our Lord and savior, our redeemer, who freely gave His life so you and I might have eternal life, did He not say, I am the Truth? And we’ve begun to understand what that means, to be able to make choices that are not popular, choices that may make you have to step away from the crowd to say, with all respect, I don’t believe that, and I will not live that.

Is that hard? Yes. Can you and I do it? Yes. If the Spirit is alive in us, us, and we allow Him to give us the courage to speak the truth. One other example. You know, my young friends, I was confirmed 53 years ago in pre historic times when there was no internet at all. Can you imagine? Therefore, you’re growing up in a world that I don’t understand completely. You have opportunities I never had. You could go online and ask an opinion, a question, and you could get a thousand people giving you all different ideas and opinions. But you could also go online and go on social media, and people can be disrespectful. People that will not tolerate you because you look different, sound different, have a different religion, different politics. We now have this phenomenon that we cancel people, whatever that means. And yet I want you to look at the Lord once again. See, on the day He freely died, notice what He did. He extended His arms on the cross. Of course, the Romans forced people to do that so that crucifixion might be more painful. But Jesus chose to die. And at the very end, He was teaching us a lesson for His arms were extended it out because He was embracing all God’s children, the rich, the poor, people of every color, language, culture, and way in life.

He was embracing the saints and the sinners, all God’s children, to give them an opportunity to learn a path of life and forgiveness and peace. You and I, we do the same thing. When you have to make a choice between either canceling someone out or with respect, listening, between choosing to hold a grudge or forgiving, to choose between violence and mercy, those choices, my friends, are not easy for any of us. But the Spirit is coming to help you to to do the right thing, which is also often the hard thing, so you may achieve your destiny in Jesus Christ. Do you see here in this sanctuary? We have your pastors are here. They are your spiritual fathers. You know, my young friends, they love you dearly with all their hearts. Their doors are always open to you as your parishes will always be home for you. They are here because they love you. If you ever have a choice or a challenge or something hard that you need to talk to somebody about, their doors are always open to you. My friends, these wonderful priests deserve a round of applause in thanksgiving for all that they do for us.

Which means if they are your spiritual fathers, I am your spiritual grandfather. And so on your confirmation day, make grandpa happy. Never be afraid to make the hard choices. Never be afraid to step out of the crowd and do what you know is right. Never be afraid to make the sacrifices you have to make to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Never be afraid to be great. My young friends, we are proud of you, and we all love you, and go out those doors with the power of the Holy spirit and show the world Jesus is alive in you. Congratulations, and may God bless you all the days of your life.

Video available here >>

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano delivers the homily at the 2024 Baccalaureate Mass at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

My brothers and sisters in the Lord,

One of the most vivid memories I have of my collegiate graduation, which occurred in prehistoric times, was what we are doing right now, in the celebration of the Baccalaureate Mass. I found myself doing something which I heartedly recommend that you do not do. And that is, daydream during the homily.

And I did it not because there was any purposeful act on my part, it’s just that I just found myself consumed with the flood of emotions and questions that overtook me. Certainly, that strange mixture that perhaps you are feeling at this moment, intense joy and enthusiasm, beginning to write a new chapter in the adventure of your life, but also some of that mixed feeling about leaving behind a university that is not a university, it’s a home. And friends that you have made for life. Strange place to be.

And of course, in my own case I had made the decision a few months prior that I was not going to become a priest. Shows you my judgement, right?

And so, I was wondering to myself as I graduated, took my first steps out into that world, what was awaiting me. Will those job interviews pan out? Would I be able to support myself? Questions swirling in my mind.

It has been 44 years since that graduation day. And when i look upon the journey of my own life, as I suspect the same will be true for you, there have been lots of twists and turns, curves, sometimes really sharp turns, when I was going at breakneck speed, not knowing what I was going to find at the other end. There were mountains to be climbed. There were valleys to endure.

And throughout all of it I’ve come to realize that the advice that the Lord gives you tonight was exactly the advice the Lord was trying to give me in my daydreaming. And it comes through the Apostle Paul.

The Lord says, “do not be afraid”.

You, my young friends, are graduating from a university that has given you graced confidence, and every tool you need to climb whatever mountain the Lord asks of you, to traverse any valley that may be in your future. To be able to go forward with confidence and joy. Because the Lord will always be at your side. The Lord you’ve come to know, you have come to love, and you know will never, ever abandon you.

The great remarkable miracle that is Franciscan University, is precisely that place that has helped to nurture the faith you brought here and allowed it to blossom so that you might go on to the journey of your life, wherever it takes you. And always know that the Lord’s love will never fail. That you will never face whatever challenge or joy in life without Him.

The fire that burns in your heart will continue to burn and it is destined to grow ever brighter because you have fallen in love with the Word of God. You have come to understand His presence in your neighbor, whoever that may be, that you have not been afraid to serve those around you, even the poorest of the poor. And in all of it have been reassured over and over and over again in the spirit of St. Francis that the Lord is alive, is He not? Always and everywhere, alive. Dwelling in His people, dwelling in you, dwelling in me.

You see, there is nothing to be afraid, because you know the end of the story. The victory is ours in Jesus Christ. And that is what the world does not know yet.

And that is why He gives you the rest of the advice that we hear from Paul. And what does he say? “Do not stop speaking”. But what proclaim in word, and more importantly in the spirit of St. Francis, the foundation of this place, in the powerful witness of your lives and mine. What it is we hold dear to our hearts.

For I don’t think it is too cynical for me to say we live in a world where words are cheap. But witness speaks.

And as I said before we began mass, every time I come here I have been profoundly touched by your witness. Even the way you greet one another and have greeted me, with sincerity, with joy, with an authentic Christian hospitality. How Franciscan can you be?

And so, I’m going to challenge you, your fellow graduate. When you leave here please do not stop speaking. Talk as loud as you can. Never be ashamed. You and I and all of us in this sacred space here tonight. All of us baptized into this mystical body. All of us, the ambassadors of hope and truth in a broken and confused world. All of us, to speak clearly, to speak authentically, and speak without words, the kinship of Jesus Christ. And how He is alive in this, His church. You and I, members of His mystical body.

And I do not know how many twists and turns you will have in your life. But wherever the Lord leads you remember this night. Because if you’re daydreaming and don’t remember my homily I won’t take offense. But please leave this place with the words of the Master inscribed in your heart and mine. My dear fellow graduates, let us never be afraid. Let us never stop speaking His love. For He will always be at our side.

Congratulations, and may God bless you as you continue to write the adventure of your Catholic life.

The following is Bishop Caggiano’s homily for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

My dear friends,

Words matter.

When I was in high school, my debate teacher would constantly remind my classmates and myself of those two words. Words matter. He would tell us that in an argument and debate, it’s just a few words that can make all the difference. And so when we do speak, we should make sure that our words matter, that we say exactly what we mean and to use our words as best as possible

It’s interesting. When Winston Churchill addressed parliament at the beginning of World War Two to rally his nation, there was much pressure around him to make peace with Hitler. But in his heart, he knew he could not make a deal with someone so evil. And so he gave a very memorable speech. Not long, but his words mattered. And his opponent was asked, what just happened?

And he said, the prime minister militarized his words and sent them into battle. And from those few words, England went to war and freed all of Europe with our help of the evil of Nazism. See, words do matter.

I want to remind us of that tonight, my friends, because tonight we gather here in this sacred space to marvel, to sit in awe of the words that Jesus spoke this night to His apostles. We heard it in the second reading. This is My Body. This is the cup of My Blood. He did not say, this is like My Body.

He did not say, this is a sign of My Body. He did not say, this should remember, you should remind you of My Body. He said in His original Aramaic that we now speak in English, this is My Body.

And if words matter, the One who speaks the words matters even more. And so the One who spoke those words is Our Savior, Our Redeemer, God made man.

And so Jesus this night took the ritual of the Passover, when the jewish people commemorate the passing of the angel of death over them. To free them from the pharaoh and his slavery. He took that simple meal and re transformed it into the sacrament of His Passover from death to life, and gave you and I the great, be able to enter into that mystery without having to be crucified ourselves, without having nails driven into your hands and mine. But in an unbloody way, we enter into that mystery, which we will commemorate tomorrow on the Friday we call good for us.

And He allows us this mystery by simply saying, this is My Body. My friends, here is the Lord Jesus true body, true blood, soul and divinity. This is the Savior and Redeemer of all things who sits on the throne of this altar. And He comes to us every time we gather to do this in His memory. For when we remember the Lord, He is truly, really acting and present in our midst.

There are no words in any language I have ever heard, who could fully and completely describe the mystery we celebrate here. The only thing we can do is to hear the priest in the person of Christ repeat the words that have changed all creation. This is My Body. This is My Blood.

My dear friends, Jesus gives us a share in the ultimate sacrament of love so that we might, with his grace, love as he did. That is why in a few moments, I will, in my own way, reenact with twelve individuals coming here. What the Lord did as our God and savior, he did it to teach us that we received the sacrament of love so that we might love one another. We received to become what we receive. And so, in the time of Jesus, it was a slave that washed a person’s feet.

No one but a slave. And anyone who washed someone else’s feet would be considered impure. And yet, God did it for us. The question is, as we come forward to receive this great mystery every Sunday, perhaps every day, are we willing to allow that sacrament to fill our hearts so that we might love as He did, to love those who have no one, to love them, to love by forgiving those who have offended us, to love those that, at first glance, we have nothing in common with, those we are afraid of, those we have never made it our business to even come to know his or her name. Are you and I willing to love in a way different from that world that sees the poor as a problem, that world that wants us to be divided, to love that way, my friends, will not cause us to hang on a cross, but it will cause us to suffer.

We will leave what’s comfortable. We will leave what’s familiar. We may actually have to leave apart our reputation, even our friendships. But if you and I are going to come forward to receive this great mystery, the true, real, full, complete body and blood of Jesus Christ, and we are not willing to love as He did? Perhaps we are receiving it in vain.

Tonight is a great mystery. Tonight is also a great challenge.

Allow me, my friends, to suggest one more thing. My mother used to say, familiarity breeds contempt. And what does that mean? To put it another way, is that we can easily take for granted one another a wife or husband who no longer talk with each other, a father or mother who takes for granted the time spent with the son or daughter or grandson or granddaughter. A friendship we keep meaning to call the person, and a day becomes a week and a month.

You see, familiarity allows us to take another person for granted.

How often have you and I taken for granted the presence of the Lord. He’s here 363 days a year. Tonight He is no longer in his tabernacle. He will come to his altar of adoration as we depict the Lord preparing for His agony and His crucifixion. And tomorrow and Saturday, He will be gone from this place so that we might once again break that possibility in you and me to take His presence for granted.

When we come into this church, do we acknowledge Him? Do we kneel before Him? Do we genuflect to our King here when He is in our midst? Do we actually spend the time to adore Him? Before mass and after mass, myself included.

Tonight we will have an opportunity to spend time with Him. Please, my friends, spend that time with Him. And allow your heart and mind to once again burn with the fire of love and zeal for the Lord who has come to walk with us.

This is My Body. This is My Blood. These are the words that have changed the whole world. What words will we say to Him in return?

The following is Bishop Caggiano’s homily for Holy Thursday Chrism Mass.

My dear friends in Christ,

A few days ago, while I was taping my podcast with my comrade in arms, Steve Lee, Steve asked me a question on behalf of one of the listeners of the podcast. And the answer I gave initially, I thought was smart. The question was this, what is the most important passage in all of sacred scripture? And of course, my initial response was, they’re all important. Case closed. But something has been, if I may put it, burning in my heart for a very long time. In fact, since we have begun this great spiritual odyssey together, which I affectionately call the One, but really, it is the invitation for all of us to be renewed in spirit and to renew our church for its mission in the world. So I coopted the question, and I said, Perhaps we could phrase it differently. It’s not what is the most important verse in scripture, but what is the most poignant, what is the most provocative? And that, my friends, has a very different answer. For all the years that I’ve had the privilege to be with you, I’ve asked that question in many a talk, and I’ve always answered it the same way.

You may recall the answer I have given in the past. It was the words that came out of the mouth of Pontius Pilate when he’s looking into the face of Jesus, thinking that he had the power of life and death over the Lord. And he asked the question, what is the truth? Of course, the answer was staring him in the face. But now, my dear friends, I have a different answer to that question. And that answer, I believe, perhaps gives us the context about what we’re about to begin to celebrate as Christians. It is the parable of the struggle of discipleship. It’s the reason, I believe, why these oils that we will bless are so important in the life of the church and why the ministerial priesthood born this day is essential to the life that Christ has given to all of us. My brothers, it gives us an understanding of one aspect of our Priestley ministry that we must never forget. You may be wondering, what are those words? For those of us who go to Daily Mass, we heard them a few days ago. We will hear them again tomorrow on Good Friday.

They are the words that St. John puts into his gospel immediately after Judas betrays the Lord. And as he takes the morsel, says, Is it I, Lord? It is you who say it. And then there are four words, John says, And it was night. And it was night.

For you see, my dear friends, in those four words, perhaps in its own sense of parable, we are reminded of the great struggle that lies for those of us, all of us, who wish to follow in the footsteps of the Master and the Savior. For there is in the word night all that is implied within it. It is the struggles that you and I face in our lives to peel away the darkness of sin and deception salvation, the lies that oftentimes try to seduce us, to expose the temptations of the evil one. It is all that takes us away from the light, which is what we are about to celebrate as dusk leads to night, tonight. The great mystery, the unfolding of our salvation, is He who we will proclaim in the Easter Vigil as Christ, our light, came into the very midst of the darkness that this world could muster.

And by His free gift of His life and His everlasting love, love that does not demand that those to be loved should be worth that love or earn that love or actually in some way prove they are lovable. In that great drama, the Lord Jesus allows the light to be victorious, to shine not just in the tomb, but in every moment of His grace, in every moment of the ages to come until the light is alone what exists. And the darkness, and he who creates it is cast into the abyss forever.

You see, my dear friends, that is why we are here today. We are here because these oils and the sacruments that celebrate them are the vessels of the light of grace for those preparing to be baptized so that all their sins of their life could be forgiven, all of us have had that great privilege in this church. All of us have been set free. For those who are sick, those who may be dying, the oil of the sick comes as a bomb, perhaps not to heal them physically, but to invite them to be healed spiritually so that they may enter into the mystery of death prepared to look upon the light that has no shadow.

Then and, of course, in the oils of chrism, baptism, the confirming of baptism and sacred orders, priesthood and Episcopacy. They consecrate us so that we might be what? The vessels of light in a world that, unfortunately, my friends, you know better than I, is in great turmoil, where the clouds continue to grow thicker and the darkness threatens too many of God’s children, ourselves included. So the ministerial priesthood, my friends, my brothers, you and I that share this great gift, today we must remember that we are called to be the heralds of light. To dare, by word and example, by our ministries and by our preaching, to give God’s people, you and I and our own selves, the path by which we might bring the light of Christ where there is no light or where the darkness threatens that light.

You see, my dear friends, you and I who gather here, please God, none of us in this church is guilty of a colossal failure before the light. That was Judas’s fate that he chose. But perhaps the struggle you and I face in discipleship is more the struggle of twilight, that mixture of light and darkness.

The times when you and I struggle with our own temptations, our own faults, our own failures, or at times when you and I are swayed by the opinions of those around us, or simply wanting to be accepted, or simply lacking the courage to speak what needs to be spoken. So many different ways, you and I in ordinary life, we struggle with that mystery of twilight. And so we come here to be strengthened so that we could peel away that portion of the twilight which threatens us, our integrity, our effectiveness, and quite frankly, our fidelity. I do it every day. I struggle with it every day. And I don’t believe I’m the only one in this church who struggles with that every day. But how blessed are we? My gosh, how blessed are we that Christ offers us His merciful love, His forgiveness for the asking that He never abandons us. And we who are as priests, you brothers know as much as I, the challenges you and I face, and they are many, and they are not getting easier. And yet you and I know the light has never and never will abandon us, even in the moments of our greatest struggle and doubt, even when our temptations raise their faces to try to tempt us to do what we know we should never do.

And yet Christ is there with the light beckoning us to be his herald. And even when we have failed, myself included, He comes to bless us, forgive us, and send us out again in mission. My dear friends, the world needs the light of Christ. The world needs heralds of good news. The world needs a clear, effective, unambiguous, zealous, courageous, reckless proclamation of the light. And that’s true for all of us in this church of every vocation, But as you and I, brothers, celebrating the day when the birth of our vocation was given to us, let us, you and I, together, brothers in Christ, make the pledge as we renew the promises of Priestley life that we will stand shoulder to shoulder as one brotherhood to help one another to peel away the twilight, wherever it threatens you and me to be able to live in the light. If we do that, we know that you and I may not see the effects of all that we do, but Christ us, and the world will, and those who come after us may inherit a world that is willing to cry out, Christ, our light. What’s interesting, my friends, is that in the natural course of 24 hours, twilight happens twice.

At the dawn, and at dusk. We are now on the threshold of the great mystery of all mysteries, the great mystery of salvation that tells us that the twilight light is destined for dawn, not for dusk. Perhaps you and This day may be resolved, rejoicing of the great gifts God has given us, but most especially, if I may be so bold, is to rejoice in the great mystery and gift of the priesthood and the men who serve and give their life over, all of them here and those who are not here, my brothers in the priesthood who give their life so generously so that the light may triumph in small and powerful ways. Let us leave this church ready to go into these days so that those of us who will proclaim it and those of us who will respond will be able to say to the whole world, We believe that Christ is our light.

The following is Bishop Caggiano’s homily for Palm Sunday.

My dear friends,

Each time I confirm another class of young people, I admonish them, I remind them, I challenge them not to be part of the crowd, to dare to be different. And that is true, perhaps except for this week, when the church specifically asks us to find our place and voice in the crowd. A crowd which, as we begin this sacred liturgy in the back of church, we’re singing Hosana to the King. And as we just heard our voices cry out, ‘Crucify Him’.

The journey of this week we call Holy is the journey to discover where we stand in the crowd and who has the courage among us to step out of the crowd. For the brutal truth is, there have been times in your life and mine when we have sung Hosanna to the Lord, particularly in times of blessings when all goes well.

And there are times when perhaps we whispered, for we did not have courage to say it out loud because of our resentment, anger, disappointment, frustration. Perhaps we would whisper under our breath, what type of Lord is this who allows me or us to undergo so much? Perhaps we were whispering to crucify Him.

Then, my friends, how many times have you and I been in the crowd and the crowd has swept us away with whatever the crowd thought was good, best, or du jour? And how many times have you and I been in the crowd, wherever the crowd may be, and stepped back and became a faceless person? And let the crowd do the talking for us?

You see, my friends, on the day when the Lord won his victory over sin and death, there was no crowd. There was simply one woman, a penitent, converted woman who knew the depth of suffering and had the courage to step out of the crowd and to wait to greet her risen King.

So my friends, as we begin this week together, my invitation to you is the same invitation I give to myself. Can we have the courage these ways to honestly look at our place in the crowd, what the crowd has brought us to? Do you and I have the courage to step out of that crowd and walk with Jesus on our own so that He may touch us, He may heal us, He may forgive us, and He may give us voice to say for ourselves without being part of any crowd, Hosanna to our risen King.

The following is Bishop Caggiano’s homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

My dear friends,

The days of our annual commemoration of the Lord’s agony and death are fast approaching in this last full week of lent. As we gather in this sacred place with the images, the sacred images covered in purple, reminding us to draw our attention ever more closely to those moments of the Lord’s gift, of Himself, His passion, His death and His resurrection. Today the Lord gives us a very clear lesson what it is He expects of those who wish to follow Him. And He says, the grain of wheat must ground and die. And of course, you and I are the grain of wheat.

That a disciple is not greater than His master. And so, if we wish to follow in the footsteps of the Lord, we too must be willing to die to ourselves.

So allow me to ask you a question. What does that mean? Or to put the question another way, how do you and I actually die to ourselves?

To answer the first question, the answer is deceptively easy. What it means is that in the end, there’s only one will to follow. And we all have a choice. It is either God’s will or our own will. And that battle between those two wills is the dying to self.

It’s finding what the Lord is asking of you and me in the vocations of our lives and choosing, despite the sacrifice or cost, to do what He asks, not do what we want or do what we will or do what we desire. It is in many ways our answer to the fundamental sin we call original sin. At the hands of our parents, who chose to put themselves in the place of God rather than to honor God, who told them, of all things, you are not to touch the fruit of this one tree. But if that is in fact what it means, then my second question takes on even greater importance. How do we do that?

How do you and I learn to put God’s will first? Well, you know, my friends, taking a who said to their congregation, as I’m sharing with you, my friends, that perhaps the very structure of the cross can teach us how, from Good Friday, we will look upon the cross of Jesus Christ, and we will look upon it not simply to thank Him for the gift of Himself, but also to remind ourselves what we are to do. And the very physical cross teaches us three lessons.

Number one, if you and I were alive at the time Jesus was crucified, and we had the enormous privilege, I may say, to stand in front of the cross in order to look at Jesus, we would have to look up, because the Romans created the cross in such a way that you could not reach the person who was crucified because they would be afraid that they would be taken down by mobs of people who did not want this person to die. And so they crucified a person so high up on the one beam that in order to look at them, you would have to look up.

And that’s lesson number one, that what the Lord asks of us is to keep our eyes fixed on the heavens. Or I may say, heaven, that all that we do and choose in your life and mine, if it is not leading us closer to heaven, then don’t do it. For it is your will and mine, not His. For He wills that all of us, all of us come to the glory of heaven. Lesson number one.

Lesson number two. Jesus carried the cross beam that He was nailed to first as He walked, His agony. And that crossbeam was designed so that the person who was crucified would have to literally hang and therefore not able to breathe easily on the cross because a person who was crucified eventually would suffocate to death. But there’s a lesson here, for Jesus did not. Jesus was not forced to die.

He chose to die. And as He extended His hands, He was reminding us of the charity of his heart. For as He embraces all people of every race, language, and way of life, He’s reminding us that the cross is the invitation to love, as He did everyone, all people, saints, and sinners alike. And if we are not willing to love, as He did, recklessly, generously, forgivingly, mercifully, then we’re choosing our will over His.

And lastly, my friends, as you know, Calvary was a small little mountain, very rocky, and yet the cross was put into the soil and buttressed by the rocks around it.

And that literal need to put it into the soil reminds us. The soil itself reminds us of the third lesson, that we are called to be a people, not afraid to put our feet onto the soil, the dirt of this world, and know the truth and admit the truth in humility, humility which comes from the word dirt. To know the truth about you and me, our faults and failings, the truth about our neighbors, the truth of who Jesus is. And never be afraid to embrace the truth. For Jesus said, the truth shall set you free.

And when we decide to deceive, lie, or believe somebody else’s truth, then we are not dying to ourselves.

So how do we die to ourselves?

With our eyes always fixed on heaven, with a heart that is ready to love as Jesus did, and always allowing the truth to be our guide in every moment of your life and mine, my friends, we will have no choice but to slowly die to everything that is not of God and to ever more clearly see his holy will for you and me. And then, at that point, the Lord can point for us not only agony, crucifixion and death but He will point to us our destiny of everlasting life.

The following is Bishop Caggiano’s homily for St. Patrick’s Day.

My dear sisters and brothers,

You could imagine when I was a little boy, in the normal rough and tumble of life. Many a day I found myself running to my mother because of some fall off a bike or whatever else happened, with a wound, a scratch, a bruise, wanting relief. And my mother’s idea of first aid was very simple. We would often go either to the kitchen sink or the bathroom sink, soap and water.

You’re washed up. There’s the bandage. Off you go. Not too sophisticated, but it worked. In fact, the initial pain quickly dissipated, and most of the time, life went back to normal.

See, my mother, in her simple wisdom, understood what you and I also understand that a wound cannot be healed unless it is faced and cleaned. That, my friends, is true of our mortal life. It is even more true in our spiritual life. For when we are wounded or wound ourselves by not just our sinfulness, but the things that may happen to us, those wounds need to be faced and cleaned. For if they are not, they fester and can cause great harm, even death.

I raise this to you, my friends, this morning, on this day when we celebrate the glorious example, model, intercession and protection of Patrick, who is the patron of all of Ireland and one of the great saints of the western church. Patrick understood what I just said, and because he understood it, miracles happened. Why do I say that? Well, you know the story of St. Patrick.

Patrick was the son of a roman official who lived in what is now great Britain, or at least Britain. And at the age of 16, he was kidnapped. And he was sent to Ireland to work as a shepherd, an indentured shepherd. And he was in Ireland for six years. And then he was able to escape.

And once he escaped and had his freedom, he did something remarkable, extraordinary beyond belief. He went back to the scene of the crime. He went back to where he was in slavery. Imagine the saints were not perfect. Nor are we.

Imagine the anger and the resentment and the disappointment and the questions this young man had as he was held in slavery. Imagine all of that in his heart. You and I would have had that and much more. And he had that for six years. And in the moment of freedom, what did Patrick do?

He didn’t turn back on where all of that happened. He didn’t say enough with you and all your people, what did he do? He faced it and he cleansed it with the power of grace. And he went back. And what did he do?

He built a great nation, a nation of martyrs and saints, a nation from which all of Europe received the faith. And just think of our country, you know better than I, church in this country was built by many hands, most of which were irish hands. Many of those who came from Ireland, who came to a country which was overwhelmingly protestant, leaving a country where Protestantism had also sought to enslave them. And they came so that the church could grow. It’s remarkable.

And Patrick, in his life, as you know, my friends, cast out the serpents. There are stories that 33 people rose from the dead because of Patrick’s prayers and presence. And all of that was possible because he didn’t run away from his anger, resentment. He didn’t run away from the wounds that people inflicted on him. But he faced them and sought the grace of Christ to clean it and begin the healing.

And he is revered as a man of great holiness because he had the courage to seek to be healed.

You know, my dear friends, when you look at our world, when you look at our communities, may I say when we look at our own families, how many wounds are there? Perhaps you and I this morning came with them in our own hearts.

When you look at the church in Ireland today, it is in deep crisis in large measure, because many were wounded and those wounds festered in silence and darkness. And only now are those wounds slowly being cleaned. So, too, in our lives and among our families and in our communities and in this very broken world, you and I come here to pray for Patrick’s intercession, not simply to admire him, not simply to seek for our personal intentions, but could I dare say, as your spiritual father, could I dare say that we are all here to follow his example, to ask for the grace to be able to look at whatever wounds we see in our own life, in those around us, and not run away from them, not resent them, not become angry with them, because all that may happen, but to actually ask the grace, through the intercession of our great patron, Patrick, to face them, to ask for the grace to begin to clean them so that we could be healed day by day. And God’s grace and His remarkable power can be unleashed in you and me so that what Patrick did in his time, you and I, 16 centuries later, are ready to do again.

It is not easy to be a daughter or son of St. Patrick, whether you are irish or not. But we are all children of Patrick. And if the world ever needed women and men and young people to follow in his footsteps, the time is now.

One man built a great nation. Could you imagine what you and I can do together here and now?

The following is Bishop Caggiano’s homily for the fourth Sunday of Lent, given at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

My dear friends,

I was 23 years old, settling into my new job as the sales representative for the Greg division of the McGraw Hill Book company. And when I was not on the road, right, traveling with customers, I would go down to headquarters on 6th Avenue in Manhattan and by train, and I would take the F train. And many of you perhaps have been to the station, 47th and 50th Street, Rockefell Center. And it is a sprawling station.

And in those days, as is coming true today, it was the home for many homeless people. And I noticed after a few weeks that the same homeless young man, young, was always in the same spot asking for money. And I had made a resolution that every time I saw him, I would give him a dollar. So you could imagine, I would lean over and give him the dollar. And I was proud of myself, to be perfectly honest, that I was doing charity.

I thought to myself, if everyone did that for this young man, he could lift himself out of poverty and restore his life. I thought I was being generous. I thought I was being merciful.

42 years have passed since that time. What I’ve come to realize, my friends, is that perhaps that was kind, perhaps that was generous, but it was not merciful. For mercy that comes from our Father. The mercy He asks us to share with one another is much more than $1 a day.

What is the mercy of God that St. Paul speaks to the people of Ephesus? What is it that you and I ought to share with one another and all of those whom we meet out there? It is very hard to define. You know it when you see it, at least when you’re wise enough to see it.

But this much is true. Pope Francis has been challenging us, both the priests and deacons of the church and perhaps all the faithful. In this very famous phrase, he has said over and over again, to smell like the sheep. My friends, have you ever considered that a shepherd can only smell, truly smell, like his sheep by picking them up and literally carrying them in his hands so that their wool and the oils in the wool rub off on his own clothes. Can’t be done from afar.

It can’t be done by just feeding them from afar. You literally have to embrace them to smell like them. And perhaps that’s the clue. For when I look back, those 40 some odd years ago, I never once asked the young man what his name was. To my shame and embarrassment, I did not once even speak to him.

I did not once ask or inquire why he was homeless. What was that drove him to this point in his life? So young in his life, I was just satisfied to give him a dollar. But you see, mercy is love that goes deeper, love that asks those questions, love that embraces someone in their point of suffering or pain, or when they need forgiveness and literally lifts them up. See, that is what God has done for us, each of us, in our poverty, in our suffering, in our sinfulness.

He has reached down, literally and touched our lives and lifts up so that whatever moment of our life we know, God is there to love us and to care for us and to lead us to glory, even if that glory is not clear in this life. Our destiny is eternal love in Him. See, that is mercy. And, my dear friends, that is what the Lord asks us to give to each other and to all whom we meet. And that is the beginning of the problem.

And if I may put it so bluntly, what I did 40 some odd years ago, and sadly, perhaps have done at different times in my life, chances are, perhaps you have done the same thing, or you and I have decided that there’s a class of people, an individual or a group of individuals, that are simply not worth more than simply $1.

But allow me to ask you this question. God would not treat those people, that person, that way. St. Paul says to the people of Ephesus that he came not to condemn the world, but to save the world, to invite every child of God to recognize the mercy of Christ so that their sins might be forgiven and they may have new life. So if it’s good enough for God, for you and me.

So it seems to me on this fourth Sunday of Lent that perhaps instead of looking forward, perhaps in this middle point of Lent, that we can look back. Perhaps we could look at our lives as I’ve begun to do in my own, and ask yourself the question, when have I risen to the challenge to truly be merciful? That is, to invest myself in the life of someone else who is in desperate need or lost or lonely or looking for purpose or looking for forgiveness or simply looking for a hand to hold on to. Have I done that? And in the past?

If we have not, then we have something to bring to our own heavenly Father to ask for his mercy and forgiveness and to learn the lesson as we move forward in discipleship.

If you recall, years ago, Congress passed a bill. It was about education. And the name of it is no child left behind.

You see, my friends, that defines how wide and deep God’s mercy is for all His children. All his children, every child, every person who lives on this earth. Christ has come so that no child may be left behind once again. If it’s good enough for Christ, why would it not be good enough for me and you.