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?

Statement by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano

Re:  Dr. Steven Cheeseman selected to lead NCEA

June 6,  2024

The appointment of Dr. Steven Cheeseman as the new President and CEO of the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) is a great gain for Catholic education across the United States. While he will be much missed in our diocese, we wish him well in this challenging and important new role. We are immensely grateful for the work he and his team have accomplished during his eight-year tenure as Superintendent of our Catholic schools.

Under his leadership, we have seen continued growth in enrollment, innovation in personalized learning, and further strengthening of the core values of our Catholic schools at a time when we are working toward the overall renewal of the diocese.

Among his many achievements, Dr. Cheeseman kept our Catholic schools open and safe throughout the COVID-19 crisis. He also played a key role in moving our schools toward a new governance structure that expands resources and community involvement. Through his efforts, our nearly 9,000 elementary and high school students have thrived, achieving high test scores and continuing their education.

Dr. Cheeseman began his tenure in 2016 by leading a long-term strategic plan that has successfully guided our schools through a period of change and challenge. His ability to work with others and his “big picture” vision will be a tremendous resource for the NCEA.

Above all, I am most grateful that he has led our schools as a man of deep faith with a strong commitment to the mission of Catholic education as it enters a new era. He has remained focused on helping our students, parents, and staff encounter the Lord in meaningful ways that last a lifetime.

Together with many dedicated board members, administrators, teachers, and parents, Dr. Cheeseman has worked tirelessly to ensure that our Catholic schools are not simply excellent private schools, but first and foremost faith-based learning communities that form, inform, and transform lives. They create the next generation of leaders in the Church and in the larger community. As we transition to new leadership, this focus and effort will continue, building on the great work of Dr. Cheeseman and our entire dedicated Catholic schools’ team and community.

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.

The following is the transcript of Bishop Caggiano’s Lecture entitled “In the Shadow of the Cross: Come let us Worship”

First and foremost, once again, I want to thank you for being here tonight and for spending this time. I consider this family time. As you know, the Bishop’s Lecture Series was created to feature very famous individuals giving very scholarly remarks. That is not what you’re going to have tonight. I stole this time from the schedule because I wanted it really as family time, time for us to prepare ourselves theologically, pastorally, spiritually, for what’s going to begin on Sunday, which is our own participation in the Eucharistic renewal. The Lord is going to arrive in Bridgeport from the Archdiocese of Hartford at noontime on a yacht. When the boat parks at the pier, we will begin a three-year adventure. I thought to myself, this is a golden an opportunity for me to offer some remarks and for us to, as believers, break those remarks open for each of our own personal spiritual well-being. Father Clark is sitting here. Father Clark gave the first talk on beauty and architecture. The Gothic Architecture did an excellent job. And next year, we have four speakers, which at the end of my talk, if you remind me, I will tell you who the speakers are.

Okay. Okay. What brings us here tonight is to paint a picture, if I may put it that way. It’s to enter into a meditation of a mystery, a mystery that, quite frankly, even the most brilliant of the theologians in the history of the church, could not fully and completely adequately explain, for a mystery defies that. In fact, it is a mystery because in the liturgy, we call it that. Let us proclaim the mystery of faith. The mystery of faith, of course, is the celebration, is that which is right before us on the altar and the celebration that allows it to come in our midst. What I’d like to do is offer some thoughts, maybe some hues, some pieces of that picture to paint it for you and me, and they will allow the Holy spirit to guide our conversation and discussion. What also brings us here is the recognition that among believers, there are many who do not have an understanding, even rudimentary, of what that mystery is. There are those who may or may not understand it and don’t feel any need to participate in it every Sunday. Then there are those, and please, I don’t mean to, in any way, insult anyone, including myself here, but there are even those among us who do participate And yet there is still the challenge to go deeper, to allow it to move us more profoundly so that the other 180 some odd hours of the week are informed solely and completely by the mystery we have entered into in an active, conscious way at Sunday Mass.

Bishop De Marcio used to say, who was my bishop in Brooklyn when I was an auxiliar bishop, he said, Frank, in the church, there are no No secrets, only mysteries, because they’re divine. That’s what brings us here. So as I want to do, allow me to tell you a story, at the risk of embarrassing people that I love, to set the stage for the key to paint the picture. I feel very awkward being here, stuck in front of this podium. I’m going to try to do my usual thing. July 17th, 1965. I was six years old. My mother and father returned back to Italy for the very first time after they left for my uncle, Jerry’s, wedding. It was the first time I met all four of my grandparents who lived in Italy their entire life. Grandma Nonna decided to have a welcome dinner Sunday. Now, I’m thinking to myself, welcome dinner, some and uncles, 8, 10 people. 51 people later showed up. It was nothing else than an ordeal. It was a marathon experience. I remember it vividly for three reasons. Number one, the beginning of the meal was, as any Italian meal begins with antipasto.

Well, the breads are given antipasto, and I have never, ever tasted food like that before. Not knowing that my grandmother raised the pigs that became the sausage and the prosciutto that we ate, that she made the mozzarella with her own hands, all the cheese they made themselves, all the olives they grew on their trees. I mean, it was a remarkable experience, number one. Number two, it was the first time in my young life that my mother had somebody who had authority over her at dinner. The very first time, I could see my mother was spying me. I was aiming for something, and my grandmother, of course, in her italian, said, Yeah, eat, eat, eat. I said, It’s like an inmate out of prison, number two. Number three, grandpa made his own wine. I’m happy to inform you that the very first time I had wine was that day at the ripe age of seven. And before my father could say anything, he just handed it to me and the rest was history, my friend. All these years, it was history. That experience of antipasto was enjoyable, memorable, but it actually has a really profound significance of why it exists Whether it’s hors d’œuvres or antipasto, it cuts across all cultures.

Why does it exist? Because it has three functions. I stumbled upon this when we eventually got cable and I was visiting my mother, and she had the cooking show, the channel all the time. That or the religious station in Brooklyn. And Lydia had an entire show on Antipasto. And this is among the things she said. She said it serves at least three functions. Number one, it’s a sign of welcome because those who come to one’s home come as guests. So what you do is you provide the best of food to let them know that there’s no one who is a guest at the table, but it’s only family at the table. It’s a beautiful image. Number two, that the food is meant to satisfy but not fill you. Of course, I didn’t learn that lesson that day, but it’s not. It’s meant in some way to give some sense of a satisfaction which the rest of the meal is to provide. And third, It is to open the appetite because if antipasto is done correctly in any way, shape, or form, or derbs correctly, you should have all the basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, a bit bitter, because your palate completely opened for the feast that is coming, to appreciate what comes next.

There is a book called Eucharist and Eschatology, written by Dr. Jeffrey Wainwright, who himself is not a Catholic. And in that book, he explores this beautiful image that I have used over and over again about the Eucharist, the Eucharist, the mystery of faith being the antipasto of heaven. The more I think of it and the more I reflect on it, the Eucharist is the antiposto of the celestial banquet. Remember, my friends, the Eucharist gets us to heaven. In heaven, there is no Eucharist. There will be no Eucharist because we will be with Him who is the Bread of Life. And so it is the foretaste, is it not, of what lies ahead. So that is what I’d like to do. Use those three insights that Lydia provided as the three hues to start painting this picture. And the first is to Remember, like Antipasto, Jesus offers Himself as food because he is reminding us of who we are. We are not guests. We are His divine family, number one. Number two, he provides us the best of all foods because He Himself is the food, body, blood, soul, and divinity, not meant to fill our stomachs, but to meet the needs of our hearts and our spirits, the restlessness that you and I live with to strengthen our hopes and our dreams, to meet us in our challenges, and to leave us hungry for more.

The third is What is that more? I’d like to end by suggesting there are three things they ask of us, the Lord asks us of us, to receive Him worthily, to give Him thanks, and to go out, and to offer to others the love he offers to us in the Eucharist. Those are our themes, and then we’ll have some time to break them open. The single most important insight that we need to remember, my friends, in the Eucharist, is that the Eucharist makes no sense if we do not begin with the great gift of baptism. What happens at baptism? We are literally redeemed in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We enter into the mystery of His death. We literally die and rise with Christ. And what the church teaches is that original sin is forgiven, all personal sin is forgiven. We are enlightened in mind and heart. We have infused into us the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. And we enter into what? A communion of believers. Notice the word communion of believers. Therefore, in baptism, we enter into a relationship with the Lord that’s rooted in the mystery of His death and resurrection.

So the church fathers say, what Christ enjoyed by grace of who He was as the Son of God, we obtained by adoption in the sacrament of baptism. So you and I are truly the daughters and sons of God in Him. Now, let’s think about that for a We say we are members of the faithful. I will defer to Father Lennix with his liturgical knowledge. But in the patristic era, there were many orders in the church. So there was the order of the catechumans, which we have now resurrected in the contemporary church, the order of the penitents, there was the order of the widows, and then there was the order of the faithful, for they were the ones who responded in faith and were received into this communion. So that is why we dismissed the catechumans before we enter into the liturgy of the Eucharist, because they are not yet ready. They are not in communion. Only the faithful are. In the modern church, we speak of the universal prayer, but we also speak of it as the prayer of the? And that’s all of us through baptism. So when you consider and see it that way, oh, look at this.

Oh, look at this. Wow. Now, is that the Father of Evil at work? Thank God I did those pages already. So in effect, keep that in mind because baptism establishes the communion. Now, you have heard me say before, I’m just going to remind you, there’s another term, because when I say family, particularly in the 21st century, that word comes with many connotations, does it not? Families are hurting desperately in many ways. Rather to get stuck with all the connotations, there’s another term that the Lord Himself gives us on the night before he died, on the night before he offers his life for us and gives us this great sacrament. The same night is the first night he calls His Apostles. What? Friends. That’s interesting, no? Three years waited. Miracles, talking, eating, praying, mountaintops, all the places they went. Waited to… Why? Why? Any ideas? Because what is a friend? I know what we call friends. Yeah, keep going. Yeah, a A friend is someone who chooses to love you. It’s not like a relative who has to love you. A friend is someone who chooses to love you. And the Lord says, I no longer call you slaves.

I call you my friends. The point being, a friend is someone who chooses to love you at your ugliest and does not walk away. We have many acquaintances, my friends, but really, truly very few friends. So there’s a beautiful theological concept to say the communion we establish is friendship with God. Either one says the exact same thing in the mystery. So in this profound way, the starting point to understand the mystery of the Eucharist is to understand the mystery of baptism. So what do we say then happens at the Eucharist? What actually happens in this mystery? Allow me to put it this way. What happened once for us in baptism is relived over and over and over again through the mystery of the Eucharist, because on the altar, we have the marrying of heaven and earth. We have the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection once again given to us. So the communion of baptism is renewed over and over and strengthened and deepened more and more each time we go to Sunday Mass. We say in an unbloody way, we are entering into the one irrepeatable, unique sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. And there’s much liturgical and autistic symbol that highlights that each time we come.

Much of that, unfortunately, in the modern church has been lost and now is slowly being reclaimed. The Lord who comes to us comes to us in His true, full, real, substantial presence. It is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of the one who died on the cross, rose from the dead and will come again in glory. So that which saved us in baptism continues to strengthen and save us and strengthen our communion over and over again. They are linked intimately. So if you see it that way, my friends, there is no reason why a person would say, I don’t have to go to Sunday Mass. If you understand what it is that is really going on at Sunday Mass. It is the gift of our own redemption given to us over and over So unlike our Protestant brothers and sisters, it is not a symbol, it’s not a sign, it’s not just a sacred meal, it’s not a reminder, it’s not a communal memorial. We use the word transubstantiation, Aristotelian philosophy, substance and accidents, that which appears, the appearances, all the outer qualities, and then what something is. So we believe that in the act of the great consecration, when we enter into this mystery on the altar and he actually comes to us and we receive Him, we are receiving Christ.

What is it? It’s not who is it? It’s truly Jesus. What does it look like? What does it taste like? Bread, the accidents of bread, transubstantiation. Most young people don’t understand that terminology. I presume we in this room do. So the Mass is a sacrifice. The Mass is also a memorial. But a memorial as understood by Christians, meaning that what we remember, we We all remember an historic act. We remember that which is real before us. What does the priest say at Mass? Do this? So he’s not saying, We’re reminded what happened. It is here. Remember, it is here. So it is a sacrifice, and it is a meal. It is a meal. Now, what I’m about to say may offend you, but at this point, I’m on Medicare, so it is what it is. Okay? Just for what I just said, you will hear people say, I got nothing out of that. What in the name of goodness does that mean when it is referring to the Holy sacrifice of the Mass? It is the gift of our redemption. You could have the worst preacher on two legs. You could have the worst music ever created in 21 centuries of faith.

You could have the most hideous church ever created, which hopefully None of that applies here at St. Michael’s. That’s not the point. But to get nothing out of it, how could that be? See, because what do we do at Sunday Mass? We are giving worship. We are coming before the mystery that saves us in Jesus Christ. And what do we do? We give thanks for the gift that we do not deserve. We cannot earn None of us are worthy of. And yet he graciously gives it, not just on Calvary, but in grace. Every time we come to Mass, he’s there offering, pouring literally out His life and His blood, literally pouring it out. For food. It has nothing to do with what we get out of it, except the fact that he gives us everything. So it’s not so much what the mass gives to us. The real question Question is, and this is where people could get offended, is what did we give back? Because that’s what worship is, is to give back to God what he has given us. And unfortunately, we live in a world where the mentality is different. It’s almost as if there’s an infiltration of a sense that the mass is meant to either entertain me or to engage me or to occupy me or to whatever it is.

It should all do. I mean, I’m not suggesting it not, but the fundamental gift is there. Therefore, we should literally be sitting in awe, kneeling in awe, and be reminded of the baptism that set us free. If we think about that, we have a lot of work to do because we have lost that sense of worship, particularly at Mass. Perhaps, please God, with the renewal, we will be able to have that reborn. It reminds me of the story of the little girl in religion class. Have you heard this story? It’s a joke. Please laugh. Okay? When it’s over. Girl in religion class. And the teacher said, Where does God live? And of course, little kids, they’re all little kids. Oh, God lives in the mountains, in the ocean, in this and that. The other way, he lives in church. He goes, Great, great, great, Great. The little girls in the back, wave in a hand, wave in a hand, wave in a hand. Finally, the teacher said, Okay, I forget her name. Okay, where does God live? She says, God lives in the bathroom. Of course, the teacher thought, She’s causing trouble. She said, What did you say?

She said, God lives in the bathroom. She couldn’t resist. She said, Who taught you God lives in the bathroom? She said, My father. Of course, she couldn’t let it stop there. The teacher said, When did your father ever tell you God lives in the bathroom? She said, Every morning when my mother’s in the bathroom, he knocks on the door and says, My God, are you still in there? Did you like that? That’s from our link letter on YouTube. Okay. Yeah. Okay. To be theologically correct, we’re taping, remember, God is omnipresent. God is everywhere. But what we’re talking about is His presence in a way that is irrepeatable and unique. A presence that allows us to taste redemption, to taste eternal life. That is what the mystery is. Allow me to ask you one question. Baptism begins the communion. There is no eating. It’s the anointings, it’s the washing in water, all the rest. Of all the ways the Lord could have continued to build on this communion, mystery of His death and resurrection, the re-representation of His death and resurrection, the deepening of it. Why do you think the Lord has us literally eat and drink?

Why do you think that was in His mind? What do you think? Do you have any ideas? I’m not doing all the work here. Any ideas? Nourishment of the soul. Nourishment of the soul. Great. Excellent. What do you think? Please. Something that becomes part of you. Keep going. You’re there. Jump. You’re gone. The communion with rice is what you’re consuming at the house. Yeah, because it’s a physical process. It’s a physical process because it’s also a reminder that Christ died on the cross to save you, not just to save your soul, to save you and me. And we are soul, spirit, and body. On Sunday, what do we say? We believe in the resurrection of the body. So the Antiposto of heaven, this best of all foods, is reminding us that, especially myself now, that I’m literally falling apart. When I rise from the dead, if I am worthy to enter into the glory of God. I will be glorified. My spirit will rejoice, my soul will be at peace, and my body will be made new just as Christ was. Theologians have always speculated as to the awareness of each other in eternal life.

My hunch is that there will be an awareness of the love of God, the Beatific vision, where we ever fall more in love with God for all eternity as we love each other perfectly for all eternity. What a beautiful thought. It’s all because we’re literally invited to eat and drink. Remember, my friends, when Christ rose from the dead and he appeared to St. Thomas. In His glorified body for all eternity, he still had wounds. Fascinating, no? Because he wanted us to remember, in part, that it was really Him. Our God is no stranger to the suffering that you and I bring to the mystery of our redemption at the Eucharist. So that’s number one. Number two, the Eucharist satisfies us but does not completely fill us. I have a very dear friend of mine who doesn’t practice the faith. This was years ago when I was a young priest. And he had these ideas, his idea of evangelization, of how to get people to Mass. So he said, Well, it’s not enough. It’s not enough. You got to do more than that. He said, Like donuts or stuff like that. I said, Well, you’re out of your mind.

It’s meant not to fill us, but what is it satisfying? What is it satisfying? Exactly, Kathy. It’s your heart and soul and spirit. Now, who in this room has not come to the Eucharist desperately praying for someone who may be ill or with the weight of a child or a grandchild who has lost their way and we’re desperately trying to find them back? Who has not come to the Eucharist struggling with loneliness or anxiety or just the worries of the world that is being created around us that we’re leaving to our next generations, thinking to ourselves, what in the name of goodness are we leaving them? I could go on and on and on, or the worries of war, or we look at the pictures of those who are suffering, or children who are orphaned in the Holy Land, or in the… You get my drift. See, we come to the Eucharist and we receive this food because the Lord is the only one who can meet those needs. They will still be there, but they will begin to be satisfied. Why? Because if you were betrayed, my friend, and your heart was broken, you are receiving into you a God who knows what it means to be betrayed.

If you arrive struggling with loneliness, he was also alone in the garden and kept going, we are not alone, for he dwells within us. We think of all the sickness and suffering and war and herd and all the rest. Well, he is there to give us the grace to go and do something about it. If we cannot do totally everything to heal, nonetheless, he is there because the victory is ours. What does that mean? The Father of Evil, his reign is over. It’s over. There will be a recreation of all things. Christ’s victory is assured, and us in Him is assured if we only allow His grace to continue to move us in life. I mean, if you consider that we would be running to Mass every time we had a chance just to be able to celebrate that victory, it doesn’t mean That the battle is over, but the war is won in Him. That’s number two. Then allow me, what is it that the Lord would like from us? If you were to look at the liturgy of the Eucharist, there are two ways to answer this question. I’m going to answer it this way first.

If If you look at the liturgy of the Eucharist, what happens? There’s a four-fold action that happens at Mass, which is the exact same four-fold action that happened at the last supper. And what was that? Jesus took bread, he blessed it, he broke it, and he gave it to His disciples. So what do we do at Sunday Mass? We take the gifts, They are blessed and consecrated by the priest in persona Christi. The bread is broken, and then it is given to those who are able to come to communion. That is the grammar of discipleship. We’re taken out in baptism. We are consecrated. We are consecrated also each time we receive the sacred Eucharist. We are reconsecrated over and over again, meaning that communion is deepened and strengthened with His grace in His ind dwelling presence for it’s really Christ there. And then we are sent out into the world not to have a nice time, but to be broken. To be broken because no student is greater than his teacher. And the Lord was. The Lord gave His life. So we, too, do that because of the grace we received. See the point? The grammar is there.

But go back to my three points, the other way to answer this, to receive the Eucharist worthily. Baptism establishes communion. And this is a very sore issue for many, many people in the modern world who believe we live in an egalitarian society and everyone has a right to everything, and that’s just the way it should be. Well, in fact, my friends, communion is established in baptism, but that communion can be hampered, can be broken, broken. It can be broken by faith being broken. It can be broken by sin. Every time we come to Sunday Mass, what do we do? We begin with the penitential rite because none of us comes to Mass without our sins. I must tell you, a pet peeve that I have is that when you come to Sunday Mass, and sometimes I’m guilty of it too, so you could hold me accountable from this point on, and we say, In order to celebrate sacred mysteries, let us acknowledge our sins. I confess to Almighty God. And you said, what acknowledgement just happened here. There was no time to give any thought. Now, granted, we do it before Mass begins, but there really should be a pause of silence And a recollection of what is it that how have we failed before the Lord?

So we recognize that we all, but then there is serious sin, as there are those that no longer believe what the church believes. Both cases, that communion can’t be had. But the door is open to invite people back, but they have a journey to go through to be able to receive. So it’s not a judgment on the worthiness of the individual because nobody in the end is worthy. But it’s a recognition that communion creates communion. All right. So number one, to receive the Eucharist worthily by a show of hands. Forgive me. Who prefers to receive Holy Communion in the hand? Raise your hands. Who Who here receives Holy Communion on the tongue? Raise your hand. Okay. All right. Remember, my friends, in the communion wars we are living, which is better, the mind’s better, yours worse. Or who here receives communion standing? I would think almost everyone. But there are growing numbers of Catholics who receive nearly more communion wars, mind’s worse. Mine’s better, yours is worse, mine’s more worse. Truth of the matter is, If you receive on the tongue, we have offended the Lord when our tongue has not been used for charity.

You receive in the hand, you’ve used your hands to offend the Lord, if and all the reason, by not doing the acts of charity. In other words, it’s the person himself or herself that the Lord is inviting into communion. The method of how to receive is totally up to you. There is no better or worse way. What’s called for is to receive Him worthily, to prepare our hearts to receive Him, to welcome the King of Kings in His gift of redemption in your life and mine. So allow me to be practical If you and I are coming to Mass, like for if I arrive to celebrate Mass with seven minutes to go, which has happened, and I’m rushing in, putting my vest in. I am not recollected. I mean, Mass is valid, but I’m not recollected. That’s also part of the worthiness is to prepare ourselves to enter into the mystery when we come to Sunday Mass. Otherwise, the mystery is there, and it’s like walking past a beautiful mass Mr. Peace in a Museum, you don’t even notice you’re out the door before it’s over. So that’s number one. And I want you to give thought to that in the renewal, because all of us have work to do in that regard.

Second is to be thankful. I joke about this at confirmation. You’ve heard me say this joke, too, and that is, you will know they are Christians by how they leave the parking lot. Exactly. So the second is we enter into the great gift of Thanksgiving, right? That which the son offers to the Father. Eucharist literally means to give thanks. Thanks for the mystery that we’re entering into. The truth is, we receive the Eucharist not simply to give thanks for that hour, but how thankful are you in your life for the blessings God has given you and me? How often do we pause to acknowledge the gracious, reckless, generosity of God for you and me? The Eucharist, if we are receiving it in a worthy way and allowing it to satisfy our spirits and hearts to feed that, we need to become more thankful for the simple blessings God gives us, even our next breath, even the fact that I’m ending in three minutes. All these blessings God is giving you and me. How thankful are we? And how much time do we do complaining? How much time do we have wondering what else we should have?

How much time do we spend wasting our time comparing ourselves to others when in the end, God knows all your secrets and still loves you. God knows your deepest shadows and dies on the cross for you. And offers you His sacred body, blood, soul, and divinity in the mystery of our redemption. Remarkable, isn’t it? And then the third is lastly, because I got the cue. What do we do being sent out? What do we do? And that’s what the one is all about, because the karygma, the proclamation of faith is Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. That’s the fundamental mystery of faith. In Christ, death and resurrection, you, I, humanity, all creation has eternal life. That is what we proclaim. So what I’m going to end is simply say, we go Sunday Mass, we are nurtured. We are entering into the mystery of redemption. We receive the sacred body, blood, soul, and divinity so that we can go out and proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ. To do it not in words, but in witness, in the integrity of our lives, in our Christian, so that in all that we do, in faith, hope, and charity, to be able to invite those who do not yet know the mystery or have left the mystery or don’t understand the mystery to say, You know what, ladies and gentlemen, there’s something here that I need because I want to be like her.

I want to be able to be like him, and I know his struggles, and see the joyful man that he is or the faithful woman that she is. That’s what conquered the Roman Empire. Allow me to I’ll end with just one story, if I may. Are you familiar with Cardinal von Thuan? He spent 13 years in prison, nine years in solitary confinement. Vietnamese. He was made a cardinal impectoray, and he befriended his prisoners and the guards, and he was put into jail basically because of his faith. So he was able to convince his captors to give him, periodically, a small piece, small little can, and in it, periodically, he would get a bit of rice wine and a small fragment of whatever bread or breadlike substance he could have. And in a cell that had no light, No light. He knew the Mass. He would celebrate Mass in the darkness of his cell. John Paul elevated him to become a cardinal, eventually was released, did not attend his own consistory, but went to Rome. At a Mass where he encountered the Holy Father, as they embraced, he knelt down before him Of course, in reverence, kissed the Fisherman’s Ring as the successor of St.

Peter and handed to John Paul the little can. And he said to him, This is where my Lord came to visit me. See, he knew the mystery that we’re talking about. He knew it. He didn’t need any theology. He didn’t need any great explanation. He knew what we are talking. This is our redemption. So please God, 385,000 Catholic in this diocese in the years ahead will be able to say the exact same thing. Thank you very much, everybody.

The following is a transcript of Bishop Caggiano’s Post-Lecture Q & A

Bishop Caggiano
Now, if you want to go get something teed, please go. Coffee, whatever. But we have time for about 30 minutes. Questions, conversation, discussion, corrections. Don’t throw anything. But other than that, we’re fine. Thoughts. Or if you want to know about the renewal, I can gladly give it the information I have.

Well, I just have a thought.

Bishop Caggiano
Please, thought. Something that you said.

I’m originally from Mexico. So when I’m here, I receive communion by hand because that’s what everybody does at church.

Bishop Caggiano
But when I’m home, I receive it on the tongue. On the tongue.

And to me, it makes no difference. I I had never even thought about it being different.

Bishop Caggiano
Again, the goal is to be worthy in hand and tongue to receive the Lord, both all the time. To be honest, we can do more harm with our tongue than we can with our hands sometimes. Just think of the sin of gossip in communities can do such tremendous harm to people. Once a reputation is wrecked, it’s very hard to heal. Thoughts. But thank you. Thank you. Please.

You mentioned the communion of believers, your excellent saying.

Bishop Caggiano

But it’s actually the communion of I was going to say, when we were there, based on the Apostle’s Creed, the bread of heaven came down, the bread of angels. The Latin word for eucharist is.

Bishop Caggiano
Is that correct? No. Well, it is a form that would be… No, but your point is the early Christians called each other saints.

Right. So we also should be called saints, not believers. Let me finish.

Bishop Caggiano
Yeah, please.

This bread from heaven should be received on the top. The ordained priest who is consecrating to Christ and is a servant, does all this on the altar, his sacrifice, and then not to receive it on the tongue is not what we were taught. Here we have, maybe we didn’t wash our hands, we’re not consecrated like a priest.

Bishop Caggiano
That’s why Also, you didn’t mention the word of God. The word of God.

That becomes the sacrifice of the Mass, the Holy sacrifice of the Mass also. I believe that the Holy sacrifice The sacrifice of the Mass is creation, redemption, and sanctification.

Bishop Caggiano
And re-creation.

Those three. Yeah.

Bishop Caggiano
But go back for a second, though. I would say this. There is nowhere that I know of that depicts the Apostles receiving on the tongue. Nor do I know that in the tradition of the church, that even if you go back to the earliest narratives of the, and I could defer to Father Lennox, who’s the expert, is that the only way you could receive would be on the tongue. Now, I think everyone should examine themselves because they should receive in the most pious in a way they know so that they are disposed to receive the Lord worthily. The only thing I would take exception to is to say that to receive in the hand, therefore, should not happen, because there are those who are disposed who can be truly worthily received the Lord on the hand. It’s not so much the consecration of the individual, but it is the disposition of the person to receive. In other words, you can receive on the tongue, and if you’re using your tongue in a sinful way, that is not receiving the Lord any more worthily than a person receiving on the hand who is trying to live a charitable and just life.

Bishop Caggiano
I think that’s my only exception to what you’re saying, really.

In another words, what St Peter is, the chair that has given us everything from Christ down to us. We know from the beginning of time that it’s always received on the tongue. Suddenly due to Zadikian two, it becomes acceptable.

Bishop Caggiano
No, but like in the Didache and some of the earlier- We are in the We are desecrating… No, no, but listen to me. That we could take all night with them. But you also have to receive the uterus in the state of grace, not in the state of spirit.

Oh, no, absolutely. There are other things, but I don’t take up because I’m sure other people have wonderful things to say.

Bishop Caggiano
Yes, absolutely. Thank you. No, no. No, but I would say, absolutely. You have to be in the state of grace. And again, anyone who’s in the state of mortal sin cannot come to Holy Communion. Absolutely. Because Communion is already broken. Absolutely. The sacrum of reconciliation is very important. Correct. If someone is in the state of mortal sin, if you’re not in the state of mortal sin, then you can come forward because the penitential right would allow forgiveness of venial sin.

I don’t know about most people, but I tried to do a few things here and there. Between all this and that, there was a billion things I could have done. Then at the same time, many of the prayer groups or whatever, they’re trying to restore things like First Friday, Fatima, so you just get with all of this. Then all of that involves confession, the Eucarist. What is your sense of… Because I think my theory, and I could be totally wrong on this, But the women of the ’50s and the ’60s who tried to do all that with five kids and this and that, it just became too much. It was just too much. I think of my mom and her friends and this and that. Now I could feel like it’s building. How do we know?

Bishop Caggiano
How do you find your way through all of that?

That’s to me. Be all and all beautiful.

Bishop Caggiano
May I make a recommendation? Yes. A recommendation to all of you. If there’s one practice that I would strongly recommend you find time to do as often as you can, is Eucharistic adoration.

Amen. I agree with that. So even more than all the.

Bishop Caggiano
Why am I saying that? I’m saying that because it’s the antidote to the modern world. In a world that’s busy, it is a place of sacred quiet. In a place where there is no savior, they don’t want a savior. You are supposed to be your own savior. You’re standing in the presence of the savior and redeemer. Valed, but truly present. It’s a place where in a world that doesn’t understand how to pray, it is the place where you learn how to pray, because to pray is not to say prayers only. It’s to allow the Lord to speak to us and to discern how he speaks to us. We learn that over time.

Doesn’t the word of God at the sacrifice, the whole sacrifice of the math give you that?

In other You may listen to God.

Actually, you speak to God. But at the sacrifice of the math, you are listening to the word of God. You are seeing it, you are hearing it.

Bishop Caggiano
Of course. Of I’m not suggesting that. But I’m not suggesting…

This creation is not the only thing that one person should focus. No, no.

Bishop Caggiano
But you are not listening to me. So listen to me. I am not saying you go to adoration, not mass. Otherwise, you missed my entire point. What I’m saying is if there’s one spiritual practice that if you have not in your spiritual life, you may want to have, I would suggest adding adoration for all the reasons I gave. That’s what I’m suggesting. Father Holland.

Cardinal, the Holy perceptively broke the entrance procession starts without a church, but when we leave on that.

Bishop Caggiano

Do you have any practical ideas to help people get to Mass on time?

Bishop Caggiano
I want to be invited back.

I have been told that I can do something revolutionary every day because I start Mass on time.

Bishop Caggiano
Yes. No. Well, I think it’s habit. It’s priority. It’s rustling the troops. And some troops, you could get out of bed and into the car and relatively short and others, it takes a while to warm the engines. I mean, every family is different. For me, we had five minutes. When my The other day, when I was stood at the door, there was exactly five minutes. You were either dead somewhere or you were ready to go to Mass in five minutes. That doesn’t happen. My niece, it’s a 25-minute runway. She only has two kids, two children, to get everybody all gathered together. I think there really is, again, practically, it’s a great question, you want to be there even before the celebration begins to do everything I just spoke about, to prepare yourself. Like you say, because with the word of God, if you haven’t had a chance to read it, you have an opportunity to read the word of God that’s going to be complained before the mass actually starts. It’s a priority, and you have to gage how fast it takes the troops to get together, to get in the car, get here, and get into church.

Bishop Caggiano

I love operation because it is really something like all of your folder. We want a hard time getting people to connect to come to worship or even to It really breaks our hearts to see sometimes the role that is a lot with a couple of people leading one person. I would love for you to tell our priest to talk about aberration, even during the moments. Maybe because so many people don’t know about adoration. I didn’t know what adoration was five years ago. It’s so special and so important. When you said that that was something that you I guess that I was happy as perfect.

Bishop Caggiano
It’s something that has to be a priority. You didn’t hear. Basically, her observation was that we who are priests need to talk more about adoration and the gift that it can be because of all the benefits that come. See, because I’m a believer that those who go to adoration have the ability to go when they come to the celebration of the Eucharist or actually even better prepared for the celebration. It’s not one in place of the other. One is the for the other. Because the Mass also can become a place where we’re filled with activity and we’re not really entering into the mystery, calming our spirit to understand and to allow the Lord to speak to us and nourish us, both in Holy Communion as well as in his word, as well as in the mystery of the assembly itself, which is the living mystical presence of Christ, his body. It’s all about your disposition. When the The Lord, in the agony of the garden, asked the disciples to pray, and they fell asleep. It’s almost as if, of course, they had the Lord with them. It was the Lord. But they couldn’t keep vigil with him.

Bishop Caggiano
They couldn’t keep watch with him. In a sense, adoration is keeping watch with him, is sitting with him. It’s just something beautiful about that in a way, because then we celebrate with him and enter into the mystery of our salvation when we enter into the mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Man. Most young people don’t know how to calm their spirits. They’re so hyperactive. It’s very hard for them to calm down. Technology is enslaved them even more to become ever more hyperactive. The church has to be the to that because you could go through all of life so hyperactive that all of life passes you by. Where do you learn that? That’s why I love adoration for that reason, because there is nothing except to sit in the Lord’s presence. What I like in it is, and again, this could be theologically stretching a bit, but it’s my religious imagination in this sense.

It says when you love somebody, you want to be That’s right. If you could give. Sure.

Bishop Caggiano
Let me put it this way, too. If I could even go further, what would you not do, anybody in this room, if you think of someone you loved so dearly in your life who has now gone through the mystery of death, what would you not do if the Lord said, You can be with that person again? What mountain would you not climb? What ocean would you not swim to be able to be with that person? And yet we have him right We have him right here. We just got to walk across the parking lot on a Sunday, get here on time, and enter into the mystery of his death and resurrection. Please.

Mr. Frank Stone, what Can I?

Bishop Caggiano
Yeah, please.

What is the church’s current thought process on villages? Because I’ve been back to hero masses where Some were allowed.

Bishop Caggiano
And some aren’t.

By family members. Other people have been gone. It was about 18 months ago where people were preparing a luge in commission.

We were stuck.

The priest who had never met her actually gave me what it was if she knew that he knew my mother. He did very well. But we were all sitting there, we want to honor her. It seems that the rules were different and different because that was affront to my family. Right.

Bishop Caggiano
This is basically where we are. That’s a very good question, where we are in our own diocese. The norm is that for a family to give a eulogy, it has to be discussed with the celebrant before. It has to be written out in advance, need not be too long, and has to be Christ-focused. Yes, Christ-focused. Because in the end… Yeah, right. But now, pastors have the option to do that or not do that. I gave the options to all the pastors about, I’m guessing, Father Lennox, about 55 of the 75 pastors do not allow them.

It’s also important, Bishop, to note that there’s a difference between a eulogy and words of Eulogy, someone is remembering in person for who they are, the greatness of who they are as a man or woman in this context. Words of Remembrance actually center and focus one’s comments on participation in the pastoral mystery and how it is that their life has been transformed in Christ. So church herself does not allow for eulogies, but it does allow for words. And you have definitely- Right.

Bishop Caggiano
And even that. I guess the problem has been that many a time when words were allowed, it was not done well. In fact, I was at a funeral, honestly, where a person actually took out a beer can at the end, at the end, and said, This one’s for you, dad. I was presiding. I wasn’t celebrating the Mass. The pastor was mortified because he had not said it. He thought it would be a great way. I’m not suggesting everybody I would do that. But a lot of pastors have felt, Can I say yes? Not knowing what could possibly happen. What could possibly happen. But that’s an excellent distinction, too. In a sense, in the ritual, if I remember correctly, you could allow words of remembrance or remembrance of the person at the vigil service, which would be the wake, at the burial, the committal. There is a possibility after the prayer, after Holy Communion, and some pastors have decided to do it before Mass begins. So they have the words of Remembrance, and then they have the celebration, the starting of the celebration of the funeral Mass. But the thinking for most pastors is that they have had such horrible experiences that they’re very gun-shy to allow it.

Bishop Caggiano
That’s really where we’re at. Yes, absolutely. My guess is the majority are not there yet. Some do. The majority is still not there. I’ve not forced the issue either way because one of the principles of Catholic theology is subsidiarity. I can’t presume to know every community, every context, every church, every parish. I have to trust my pastors to make those decisions. I think most of the time they do. There may be, obviously, exceptions, but… Please.

Complete with some conscience aspect of the man. I’m sorry, but they tend to celebrate the life of the person that has. We use conflicts at mass, directly at mass, with the person that has. They’re really two different things. It might contribute to why they’re shouldn’t be using all the time if there’s not an understanding of what we’re doing. Second point, there is in questioning. The sign of peace, that is where it’s the involvement of the past. Sometimes it serves to be more use, particularly young people who may have to be advertised because the last thing where we ask them to We’re present in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, a very solid, irreverent event. And yet when it comes to the sign of peace, the expression of it is usually joyful and jolly and happy. And that doesn’t mesh with the concept that we’re in a crucifixion.

How do you see that?

Bishop Caggiano
Well, again, it’s a very interesting observation. Coming out of COVID, for example, there are a number of pastors who have not… They exchange the sign of peace with their people, but they don’t invite their people to exchange the sign of peace with each other. Of course, during COVID, none of us did it because of the fear of transmission. Some have not returned it. Truth of the matter is, it’s with proper catechesis, it can be done reverently. Oftentimes, it’s not. For example, when I celebrate Mass in the high schools, I do not invite the young people to exchange to sign a peace for all the reasons you mentioned, because they are not catechized enough to be able to do it reverently. But in other cases, I’ve seen it done beautifully. For example, in the other rights of the church, like the Maranites, because I had my ritual faculties for five years, so I celebrated Mass for the Maranites as well as in the Latin Church. Of course, in the Maranite Church, the words of consecration are in Aramaic. They’ve always been in Aramaic for 2,000 years in Aramaic, which is the Lord’s language. Having said that, they exchange the sign of peace this way.

Bishop Caggiano
So may I? If you put your hands like this, they exchange this piece by this. It was just beautiful. It’s beautiful. Yeah. It’s like this. If you have your hands, they just put their hands on your hands like this as the sign of peace. It’s a beautiful way to do it. There’s a way to do it, but I think I agree with you in many ways that in many places, it’s not always done with mindful of what the moment is.

It brings it to question whether we’re actually present in sacrifice. We don’t celebrate, do this, or shake hands with this one another.

Bishop Caggiano
You know what? I had read a report. It was funny you should say that. Before Pope Benedict, and Father Lenin, if you could correct me, but before Pope Benedict abdicated and retired. He had commissioned, I was told, he had commissioned a study to make two changes in the Mass. The first was to move the sign of peace to the offertory. And the second is to move the gloria as the prayer of thanksgiving, post communion. So to put it after the reception of Holy Communion and the sign of peace at offertory. And if you think about it in the scriptures, make peace with your brother and sister before you give your gifts to the altar. And it could very well be that in time it may migrate to that place where I think at least there is a logic there to your point, before it begins. Please.

At least with a lot of young people, I go to Catholic University in America, so I’m really gifted where I’m surrounded by really well-catech people. A lot of people that have a relationship with Christ. But I see outside in the world and in older generations that I think got ripped. The catechism was ripped from them, and they didn’t get that opportunity. Even now, we’re still struggling with sugar covered.

Bishop Caggiano
Oh, yeah. Yes.

How can the Eucharistic renewal not only help catechize people about the truth of the faith, but also bring them to a relationship with Christ, which is the goal of it already. The catechesis is to create a relationship.

Bishop Caggiano
Right. Okay, that’s a great question. Perhaps we’ll make that the last question because we’re approaching 8:30, and then there are cookies, whatever is out there. Help yourselves. You said it. You began the answer to that question. When you said, When you love someone, what would you not do for that person? I think what needs to happen is either in a moment of a transcendental being truth, beauty, goodness, or accompanyments in suffering. There has to be a moment where Jesus is no longer an historic figure or a religious authority, but actually he comes alive, that we fall in love. Because when that happens, then you want to know everything about him, truth. You want to spend time with him in prayer, beauty, adoration, wonder, and awe, and you want to do anything for him, which is the virtue and goodness and to the missionary discipleship. And then you go out to accompany those who are suffering. And when you do suffer, you never suffer alone. That encounter, it can happen in any of those ways and perhaps a way I haven’t even outlined. But there are too many of us, perhaps all excluding everyone here, please God, where that has not happened.

Bishop Caggiano
So in our renewal with the One, my hope is offer as many opportunities to learn the faith in catechesis, to learn to pray, to understand the beauty and the power of beauty, to be able to learn virtue and goodness, invite people to acts of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, not just service, and to be able to find ways to accompany people when they’re suffering? Because one of those is going to be the magic moment that the spirit chooses, not me, not you, not them, the spirit, and then everything else will happen. If you’re hungry to know about Jesus, we got plenty to tell you. But like our young people, if they think it’s class, it goes in one ear and out the other. So that’s why I said we’re doing it our renewal differently, because I want to lay all these seeds so that this This is a permanent renewal, that the life of the church will be changed for generations to come. Could we dare to hope that we could have hundreds of thousands of people at Sunday Mass every Sunday? That’s the hope. Father Lent. Of course you may.

Have given us a magnificent beginning to this renewal in this talk now. Kind of like the antipostols, we’re doing That’s all I’m thinking about now, to be honest. But I think a lot of questions here which have to do with the Mass and about the Eucharist and theology and liturgy and understanding what’s happening as part of these efforts to catechize, as part of the one, the Office of Liturgy and Worship is going to be having a series of nine talks or nine presentations on these themes so that while this- He is the Office of Liturgy and Worship, by the way.

Bishop Caggiano
Just if you were I’m wondering.

But in case people would like to continue this from more deeply, that will be coming up.

Bishop Caggiano
Yes. But the church All of its members have to fall radically in love with the Lord. Then we will fall radically in love with each other. Then everything else will fall into place.

That is when the Who said- A radical. A radical.

Bishop Caggiano
Yes, that’s what I just said. I think there’s a time zone difference between here and there. Thank you, everybody..

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.