Thursday, December 17, 2020


Deacon Jerry Franzen    Cathedral – DECEMBER 13, 2020

Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; 1 Thess 5:16-20; John 1:6-8, 19-28

“Praised Be Jesus Christ! Good Morning.
It’s Gaudete Sunday; “Gaudete” is Latin for “Rejoice!”
May you have a day filled with joy!

A preacher was trying to aid some seminary students to
improve their preaching by helping them to match
their facial expressions to the topic of their preaching.
He told them to have a bright smile on their face,
or at least a pleasant expression, when preaching about heaven.
They could just have their normal facial expression,
if they were preaching about hell.
The idea was that it seems that most people
usually have less than joyful expressions on their faces.
It may be hard to tell these days with the masks.

I once wrote a short article for the Messenger
about the Mustard Seed Community,
our diocesan charismatic prayer group.
I mentioned that we had monthly prayer meetings then
at St. Joseph Heights.
My directions to get to the meeting went something like this:

Take the entrance to Notre Dame Academy off Dixie Hwy.
Follow the road to the big parking lot;
take a parking space at the west end of the lot
and follow the people with a joyjul expression on their face.
Charismatic people are people who are filled with the Holy Spirit
and that makes them joyful in the Lord,
who came to earth as one of us for our salvation.
Unfortunately you are all wearing masks so it is difficult for me
to assess your expression.
Hopefully you see mine as at least hopeful.
because I will be preaching about heaven in a roundabout way.


Christmas is getting closer.
Presents to get and to give. Joy Joy Joy.
Parties and family gatherings. Joy Joy Joy.
Carols to sing and favorite movies to watch. Joy Joy Joy.
We should all have that joyous look on our faces,
but our masks can hide the joyful expressions, if there are any.
For some of us the pandemic has dampened the joy
normally associated with our preparations for Christmas.
The joy of the anticipation of gatherings to share Christmas
has been curtailed; large gatherings are off limits.

But we just heard Isaiah say, “I rejoice heartily in the Lord.
In my God is the joy of my soul.”
Some would say, “Rejoice? What joy?”
When we hear St. Paul say, “Rejoice always.”
in his letter to the Thessalonians
some might say, “Always? Why, I can’t even get started.”
I get it; I am tired of always trying to remember to bring a mask,
let alone tired of wearing a mask.
It is a shame that we cannot get together to share Christmas
in various groups.

I am tired of the disappointment of looking out at you
and seeing so many empty places in the pews.
I am embarrassed somewhat by the fact that I am here and
there are so many people who want to be with us
but can’t because of the danger of COVID-19.
I am tired of not being able to sing at Mass.
To many people this hardly seems like Gaudete Sunday.


Let’s go back and look at more of that sentence from Isaiah:
“I rejoice heartily in the Lord,
In my God is the joy of my soul;
For he has clothed me with the robe of salvation,
And wrapped me with the mantle of justice….”
Isaiah was preaching the joy that God will send a Savior,
He will be that robe of salvation for all people.
Maybe this reading was assigned to this Sunday to remind us
that the joy that we are anticipating is
the celebration of the anniversary of the One
that has opened the gates of heaven for us.
That joy of the coming of our Savior cannot be quenched
by some despicable virus.

Likewise, St. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians,
began the first reading with: “Rejoice always.”
The reading ended with:
“May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus’ birthday anniversary is celebrated because
He is the One sent by the God of peace to instruct us
in perfect holiness and to preserve us as blameless
for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

WOW! God did that for us – to make it possible for us
to be with Him in heaven, though we are all sinners.
Again, that is a joy that cannot be quenched
by some despicable virus.


True happiness that results in joy is not something we seek
so much as it is in a gift from God.
We may rest joyfully in the assurance of God’s love for us.
Isaiah rejoiced heartily in the Lord for he knew
that the Messiah was coming.
Christ is the spirit of God that was upon Isaiah.
Christ is the glad tidings, the healing, the freedom,
the salvation of which Isaiah spoke..

Christ is the gift we receive in the Word, in the priest,
in the assembly and in the sacrament at each Mass.
Jesus stood up in the temple
and read that very prophecy from Isaiah.
After he finished reading he said,
“Today that prophecy is fulfilled in your hearing.”
We should rejoice because the Savior has come.

So, what is the character of your spirit this Advent?
Are you troubled because you may be restricted from finding
all the right gifts for friends and relatives?
Are you annoyed because you cannot gather for
all the usual holiday activities?
Someone once said that the letters J O Y stand for
Jesus, Others and You.
True joy lies in our interactions with Jesus and others.

As I said earlier, “I get it.”
Our not being able to interact with others as well as we did in the past is the problem this Christmas.
Since that is a problem, may we then be able to focus more on
the our interaction with Jesus.

If your only source of joy at this time is
through the usual holiday activities, that joy is fleeting.
You can’t on to hold it. It will escape you.
Joyfully thank God for the gift of His Son the Messiah, the Christ.
That joy will not be fleeting.

Paul says, “Do not quench the spirit.”
Continual searching for joy among
the commercial aspects of Christmas quenches the spirit.
No despicable virus can quench the spirit of joy we receive,
when we realize what God, out of His love for us, has done.
Allow God’s gift of his Son to reign in your heart.

The entrance antiphon for today, taken from
St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say,
Rejoice! The Lord is near.”
The Psalm today was not a psalm; it was composed
of parts of the Magnificat, Mary’s joyful response
when her cousin Elizabeth affirmed that she, Mary,
would be the mother of the Savior.
Our response to the verses of the psalm was:
“My soul rejoices in my God.” So, “Gaudete, Rejoice!”
Rejoice because the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled today
in your hearing.
The Lord is near.

Sunday, October 18, 2020



Deacon Jerry Franzen Cathedral – October 18, 2020
Isaiah 45: 1, 4-6 Thessalonians 1:1-5b Matthew 22:15-21

Praised Be Jesus Christ. Good Morning.
"Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
We just heard that at the end of today’s Gospel.
Jesus is saying that we have two responsibilities:
to follow Civil laws, for example paying our ta
xes and to obey God’s law of love. 

Be sure that you vote; it is your God-given right to be free
to participate in the election of government officials and it is your civic duty.
You have a choice between two very different visions for the future of this country.
One of those visions seeks to remove all influence of religion from our system of government. 
Voting might be considered as one part of “repaying to our current ‘Caesar’.”
Some have said that there are many issues and that we should look at all of the issues
and form our consciences on how we should vote depending on that conglomerate of issues.

Take into account the enviromment, taxes, health care. etc.
You decide based on your weighting of those issues.
The inference is that a person should not be a single-issue voter.
You might want to read Fr. Ray Enzweiler’s article in the We Choose Life column of the most recent issue of the Messenger, a weekly publication of the Diocese of Covington, KY. 
These days others say that you should consider only one issue, because you profess to believe in God as the author of all life and human life is sacred.
The taking of an innocent human life is a grave matter.
Let’s look at the treatment of the sanctity of life from both the religious and civic sides.

On the side of giving to God what is His, we recognize that God is the author of all life.
He who gives life is the only one who can take it away.
We believe that abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia suicide and assisted suicide
are the taking of a life and not in self defense.
We believe these practices to be occasions of grave sin, and many Christians of other denominations share that belief.
Being the author of all life, only God can end it.
So, on the side of what we owe to God, we must come down on the side of being against abortion.
After all, God said, ”Thou shall not kill.”
Even atheists and members of non-Christian religions believe that the current laws against murder are just.


Let’s move over to what I would call the civic side.
The Declaration of Independence, a civil document states:
“….. all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This, I believe, indicates that the founding fathers meant that all persons have been endowed by God with the unalienable right to life.
Abortion, the death penalty and assisted suicide are each a taking of a life, and each is abhorrent in its own right.
Those justices who controlled the decision on legalizing abortion seemed to not consider that abortion was the taking the life of a person.
They did not consider the baby in the womb to be a person nor did they consider that the baby had any constitutional rights.
The mother had rights , the baby did not.

Some have described that baby as “just a glob of cells.”
Others have said that since it seemingly cannot survive outside of the womb, the baby in the womb is not an individual, not a PERSON.
I believe that it was Justice Kennedy who said that if it ever were established that the baby in the womb is legally a person, that would be the basis for overturning the Supreme Court decision making abortion legal.

The fact that it has been shown that the baby in the womb has unique DNA distinct from the mother, supports the individuality of the baby.
It has been shown, through experiments, experiments that I would not condone, that an embryo in the right medium of nutrients outside of a womb can begin the process of its development.
The baby can begin development independent of the mother.

The baby has its own heart beat at 6 weeks, and some say that there is evidence that the baby can feel pain at about 27 wks gestation.
Abby Johnson, who once worked in an abortion facility and is now a Pro-Life speaker, left the abortion industry after she observed in a sonogram the baby attempting of fight off the instruments used for the baby’s eventual abortion.
Furthermore a healthy pregnancy should not be terminated for the health of the mother; pregnancy is not an illness or a disease.

And to say that this decision should be between the mother and her doctor and her clergyman is tantamount to saying that a mother could legally kill her baby after delivery because that, TOO, should be between her and her doctor and her clergyman.

I believe that there is hope that eventually the civil authorities will come around to our way of thinking: abortion is the taking of the most innocent of human life and it is intrinsically wrong.


On the more positive side:
We hope that information regarding abortion procedures, about pregnancy and about the Church’s teaching will better inform all mothers to choose life.
We hope that greater insight into the conception of life will lead to more conclusive evidence that life begins at conception.
We hope continuing investigations into what happens during a pregnancy will help to convert those who do not believe in the sanctity of life.
We hope that advances in medical techniques, such as sonograms, will convince more mothers that this truly is a person in the womb.
We hope that adoption procedures and greater access to them will encourage more mothers to choose birth for their babies and more families to be open to adoption.
We hope that more centers for free pre- and post- natal care will be established and utilized by mothers who are considering an abortion.
We hope that there will always be adequate resources available for these centers.

And while I am speaking about hope, I would be remiss if I did not mention hope for those who have been part of or affected by an abortion:
Mothers who have had an abortion,
Fathers who have been affected by the abortion of a child they fathered, and even extended family members who have been affected.
All may feel some degree of despair as a result of this act. 
Despair is the opposite of hope; it is hopelessness.
All involved must also know that there is hope for themselves – that our God is a forgiving God, a God whose mercy and compassion are infinite.

The only unforgiveable sin is the rejection of God's mercy.
Project Rachel is a program available through the Pro Life Office of our diocese.
It is specifically designed to assist those affected by an abortion, especially the mothers who have had an abortion.
There is a separate program for fathers.

If you are in this situation, make an appointment to speak with one of the priests here at the Cathedral or at your home parish, or any priest in the diocese.
He will be the agent of God’s mercy for you and
put you in touch with our Pro Life Office if you wish.
You can also call the Pro Life Office directly, if you like.
With the mercy of our God, the love of the Lord Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit there will always be the possibility of a better tomorrow.
We are to repay God what belongs to Him; that will not change.

In their greeting, Paul, Silvanus and Timothy told the Thessalonians to endure in hope.
We must have hope and continue to pray that what belongs to our substitute for Caesar will change.

Monday, September 14, 2020


Praised be Jesus Christ!   Good Morning.

Last Sunday’s Gospel was about fraternal correction, about how, if someone has sinned against us, we should confront that person, admonish the sinner.  It’s a spiritual work of mercy to help correct a fault in another. It is one of our responsibilities to help a brother or sister to avoid sin.  We are to correct in a humble manner, the one who has offended us and thus offended God.  In today’s Gospel reading, Peter asks Jesus about forgiveness.  The next steps after someone has sinned against us is to admonish that sinner and then to forgive the offender.  Jesus emphasizes that we must forgive as many times as we are hurt.  The number 77 means a very large, an infinite, number of times.

Sirach, in the first reading, says that clinging to hatred, and not forgiving an offender is a sin in itself.  He goes on to say that if we sin in this way, who will forgive our sins? Jesus used a parable to reinforce the truth that if we do not forgive others, we can’t expect to be forgiven our sins by the Almighty.

It seems that in two of today’s readings God wants us to look into our hearts  to examine our own attitude toward forgiveness of those who have offended us.


*We have all been hurt by another, maybe physically, but more often emotionally.  Emotional hurts can linger for a long time. The offender could be someone who is close to us, such as a family member, a purported friend,  even a stranger or someone who is openly hostile to us.The offense could be major or minor.  It could be an unfaithful spouse or a spreader of damaging gossip.  It is really very hard to forgive such a major hurt. The hurt could be a minor item such as a person who criticizes our choice of  friends, our choice of political candidate, our clothes etc.  Most of the time these minor hurts are relatively easy to forgive.  We may even get past them without revisiting the situation.  This is how God forgives; he gets past our sins.  We express our sorrow and He wipes that sin from our soul.  God brings us back to “square one” with a “clean slate.  It is as though He forgets about sins that are forgiven.

We certainly have trouble getting past the major hurts, and even some minor hurts can just keep nagging at us.  They linger, not even coming up for consideration for forgiveness. Resentment and looking for revenge feed this lingering.  This resentment and the desire for revenge can actually replace the feeling of being hurt and become the heavier baggage that actually weights the person down and keeps nagging at the person.  Forgiveness from the heart frees us from that baggage.


In today’s parable there is an emphasis on “debt.”  Jesus is likening the “debts” of the servants to our debt for sin.  The first step in our forgiving is to acknowledge that God, NOT US, is owed what Jesus called the “debt.”  People who have been deliberately offended by another think that they are owed a kind of debt from the offender, some kind of “compensation” to “make it right.” This comes from the poor interpretation of “an eye for an eye,” and from our system of civil laws with punishments and monetary awards. We must remember that all sins are sins against God first and that any debt is owed to Him.

It has been said that true forgiveness is a miracle;**    it requires God’s intervention.  Remember Jesus came into the world, suffered and died on the cross so that we might be free from the bonds of sinful tendencies. God chose to be a forgiving God, and we must emulate Him.  We must take our sins of refusal to forgive to the miracle of the cross.  The cross can bring healing, because when we stand before it, we must recognize our own guilt, our own sinfulness. We all owe a huge debt to God that none of us can hope to pay.

God is the Grand Forgiver of our debts; that is the Good News. But there is a condition; we will be forgiven by God in the measure that we forgive others.  Remember “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”By recognizing our own sinfulness and our need for forgiveness, we can forgive those who have sinned against us.  It is not easy. It may be the hardest part of following Jesus.


In these times of politicians hurling insults at each other, I wonder how much forgiveness exists in that realm.  In these times of violence in the streets, where is the forgiveness?  What about racial tensions and intolerance between classes, who has indicated any amount of forgiveness there? These days anyone offended seems to want to extract the debt  forever and ever.

Recently the sportscaster Thom Brennaman uttered a word very hurtful to the LGBTQ community; the word was broadcast over the air at a Reds game.  He quickly apologized on the air and shortly thereafter in print.  He asked for forgiveness.  He was indefinitely suspended from his position with the Reds and from his position with the Fox Sports network.  When I first heard about it, my thought was he will never be forgiven for that by those he offended.  In the currently very contentious climate such offences are brought up again and again.  People were demanding actions that would ruin his career, whatever that might be in the future. 

In a subsequent article in the Cincinnati Enquirer,*** a prominent leader in the LGBTQ community, Mr. Ryan Messer, indicated how the group he represents was hurt, but said that Thom should not be fired by the Reds,  that he should be given a second chance to redeem himself.  Mr. Messer explained that he wanted good to come from this.  He said that there was no better place for Brenneman to accomplish this “good” than with the media crew in the broadcast booth.  He wanted this to turn into a learning opportunity for Brennaman and for others.  He said that you have to start with grace in every situation.  I presume that by the term “grace” he meant to treat Thom in a  genteel behavior. He probably didn’t mean “grace” as the gift from God, although we know that “grace” from God is also required.

He meant that Brenneman should be allowed back in his positions and, THERE go through the process of transforming himself and others from persons who would use such expressions to persons who respect all people and not use such hurtful expressions.

Maybe in this way Thom Brenneman   can be a channel of God’s grace for others.  Mr. Messer has proved me partially wrong by at least advocating for forgiveness.  If Thom Brennaman’s sorrow is sincere, he has been forgiven by God.  What I find interesting is that this approach further connects  “admonishing the sinner” and “forgiveness.”  Not only has this hurtful sin been called out, an attempt to help the sinner avoid the sin in the future, but the suggestion of this particular approach to forgiveness includes a clear pathway to learn about the sin and how to avoid that sin.  That reverts back to the aim of admonishing the sinner.

Certainly true forgiveness requires that the offended recognize his or her own faults first. These readings should prompt us to take this opportunity to examine our own faults and attitudes toward forgiveness.  Let the fact that Jesus has cancelled our debt to God  be our inspiration to forgive others, not trying to hold them in any debt to us.

If we are having trouble with forgiving someone, or dealing with anything that the Holy Spirit is calling us to do, we might use the following short prayer:  It’s a modified from of a Prayer of Fr. Mychal Judge who lost his life ministering to the dead and injured at the World Trade Center.  This short prayer is:

 “Holy Spirit,
Take me where you want me to go,
Let me meet who you want me to meet,
Tell me what you want me to say, and keep me out of your way.”


* Parts of this homily based on the following:

** Lewis B. Smedes, "Forgiveness - The Power to Change the Past," Christianity Today, 7 January 1983 .

*** The Enquirer, September 4, 2020 Page 5A


Monday, July 20, 2020


Deacon Jerry Franzen CATHEDRAL – JULY 19, 2020
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19  Romans 8: 26-27    Matthew 13: 24-43

Praised Be Jesus Christ.  Good Morning
*A mother asked her daughter if she would like an ice cream sundae.
The daughter replied, “No, I would like it today.”
We are not a very patient society.
I have recently had two stays in the hospital, so I have learned,
once again, just why the person being treated is called a patient.
We have become so accustomed to instant gratification,
everything at our fingertips when we want it or need it.
**I also have heard that patience is the ability
by which we can endure something
as long as it happens to the other fellow.
In these days of trial with the coronavirus
it certainly can be hard to be patient.
Patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
The fruits of the Spirit arise in us and are to be used by us,
for the good of the community.
They are listed in St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians (5:22-23),
and develop in us from the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit
which we receive at Baptism and
which are reinforced at our Confirmation.  
Patience is at the heart of the readings today.


In today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom,
we heard of God being addressed as “caring for all”,
as master of all things and lenient to all.
Imagine what it would take to be lenient to everyone,
when one has power over all things, can do all things.
God is very patience with our shortcomings.
The reading goes on to say, “..though God is the master of might,
He judges with clemency and governs with leniency.”
So God governs with leniency; how are we governed?
We have the whole establishment in Washington
and our state and local governments that work to rule us.

Supposedly their job is to try to keep us on the path
that will be for our benefit here on earth.
Often I have trouble seeing how all of the politics is for our benefit.
We might stop right here and ask:
Is it God who really governs what we do?
I know that our governor has said that we must wear masks,
and I hope that his motives are driven
by what he sees as our ultimate benefit, as our safety.
But do we consider that God also tells us
that we must do everything we can
to keep our brothers and sisters safe?
The reading goes on to say that
God teaches that those who are just must be kind.
Certainly God in His teaching role must be patient
with us who are so slow to learn.



Last week we heard the parable of the person sowing seeds
on different types of soil.
Jesus explained the parable as the seed of faith
sown in the hearts  of persons with different dispositions
for that faith to grow in their hearts.
Immediately after that in Matthew’s Gospel,
Jesus tells the parable we heard today. 
It’s again about sowing seed but a different situation;
all of the good seed is sown in good soil, where it can grow.
This would represent those who receive the gift of faith
from God the “sower”
and are in the process of growing in that faith.
That would represent us.
The enemy then sowed weed seed among the good seed.
The weed seeds certainly must have looked to be harmless
at the beginning.
Eventually the weed seedlings could be distinguished
from the good ones.
The devil has sown evil within the world, we exist with it
and we learn to identify it.

The servants wanted to pull up the weeds,
but the householder told the servants to be patient.
They were to let the good plants develop among the weeds
and to separate them
when they were easily distinguished at the harvest.
There was the fear that puling the weeds
would result in pulling up the good plants as well.
Again we hear of God’s patience.
He wants our faith to mature and be strengthened
for we will tested by the evil, the weeds of the world.
God knows that there will be times in our lives
when our faith in Him may be weakened.
He wants to give us time to work all of that out,
to be fully grounded in our faith.


THE Good News IS that God is very patient with us.
He has all of the power and might to punish us when we sin.
In fact, He has the power to keep us from evil,
He could pull the weeds out of our lives,
but he wants US to make the decision against evil,
to choose good, to have our faith strengthened
as we deal with the obstacles that come into our lives.
And if we fail, he is always patiently there
to accept our sorrow, to grant our request for forgiveness.
God will never get fed up with us; He will never give up on us.
That is why He sent His Son.
God’s patience is very Good News for us!

It then follows that for us to be more God-like,
we must be patient, use this fruit of the Holy Spirit.
***A preacher tells the following story about himself:
“Three minutes had elapsed
since I had taken my seat at the lunch counter,
Waitresses passed me by;
two cooks and a bus boy took no notice of my presence.
My ego was soothed only because
the truck driver seated next to me was ignored as well.
‘Maybe this counter is off limits,’ I said to him.
‘Maybe they are short of help,’ he responded
‘Maybe they don’t want our business,’ I said.
‘Maybe they are taking care of those at the tables,’
          was his reply.     
The hands on the clock continued to move.
‘Maybe they don’t like us,’ I insisted.
‘The air conditioning feels so good, I don’t mind waiting,’ he said.
At this point a harried waitress stopped to tell us
that the water had been shut off and there was no way to wash dishes.
The nameless truck driver just smiled at me,
 thanked the waitress and left."
The preacher then realized that the truck driver was practicing
 what, he, the preacher had been preaching.     

Do we deal with others with patience?
Do we make time and space for the other side of the story?
Are we always upset when someone is late?
Are we discouraged when we or someone else
           keeps making the same mistake over and over?
We are all called to be patient with others.

And what about our patience with God?
****A speedboat driver described
what had happened to him in an accident.
He was racing when, in a turn, his speed and a wave combined
to flip his boat upside down in the air
and he was thrown down deep into the water -
so deep that he did not know
which direction was toward the surface.
He had to wait for the buoyancy of his life vest
to overcome the downward force and set him upright under the water.
Then he could swim to the surface.

Sometimes we find ourselves surrounded by confusing options,
so deeply immersed in our problems
that we do not know which way is up.
When this happens, we must just remain calm, have patience,
and wait for God’s gentle tug to pull us in the right direction.
Our “life vest” might be other Christians, Sacred Scripture,
or some other leading of the Holy Spirit.
But the key is to be patient with God;
recognize our dependency on Him and trust that He will guide us.   

*  Taken from “ 1001 More Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking” by Michael Hodgin  Zondervan, Grans Rapids, MI, 1998, p 239

** Taken from “The Awesome Book of Heavenly Humor” by Bob Phillips, Harvest House , Eugene, OR 2003 p 145

**** Taken from “A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers” by William Bausch, Twenty Third Publications, Mystic, CT 1998 p350

**** Taken from “750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers” from Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI 2007 p 391