Monday, February 3, 2020

Saint February 4 : St. Joseph of Leonessa : Capuchin Priest

8 January 1556 at Leonissa, Umbria, Italy
Saturday 4 February 1612 at Umbria, Italy
29 June 1746 by Pope Benedict XIV
CAPUCHIN, PRIESTIn the world named Eufranio Desiderio; born in 1556 at Leonessa in Umbria; died 4 February, 1612. From his infancy he showed a remarkably religious bent of mind; he used to erect little altars and spend much time in prayer before them, and often he would gather his companions and induce them to pray with him. Whilst yet a boy he used to take the discipline on Fridays in company with the confraternity of St. Saviour. He was educated by his uncle, who had planned a suitable marriage for him, but in his sixteenth year he fell sick of a fever, and on his recovery, without consulting his relative, he joined the Capuchin reform of the Franciscan Order. He made his novitiate in the convent of the Carcerelle near Assisi. As a religious he was remarkable for his great abstinence. "Brother Ass", he would say to his body, "there is no need to feed thee as a noble horse would be fed: thou must be content to be a poor ass." In 1599, the year before his Jubilee year, he fasted the whole year by way of preparation for gaining the indulgence. In 1587 he was sent by the Superior General of his order to Constantinople to minister to the Christians held captive there. Arrived there he and his companions lodged in a derelict house of Benedictine monks. The poverty in which the friars lived attracted the attention of the Turks, who went in numbers to see the new missionaries. He was very solicitous in ministering to the captive Christians in the galleys. Every day he went into the city to preach, and he was at length thrown into prison and only released at the intervention of the Venetian agent. Urged on by zeal he at last sought to enter the palace to preach before the Sultan, but he was seized and condemned to death. For three days he hung on the gallows, held up by two hooks driven through his right hand and foot; then he was miraculously released by an angel. Returning to Italy, he took with him a Greek archbishop who had apostatized, and who was reconciled to the Church on their arrival in Rome. Joseph now took up the work of home missions in his native province, sometimes preaching six or seven times a day. In the Jubilee year of 1600 he preached the Lent at Otricoli, a town through which crowds of pilgrims passed on their way to Rome. Many of them being very poor, Joseph supplied them with food; he also washed their clothes and cut their hair. At Todi he cultivated with his own hands a garden, the produce of which was for the poor. His feast is kept on 4 February throughout the Franciscan Order. He was canonized by Benedict XIV. Text Catholic Encyclopedia

Kobe and Daughter went to Mass before Dying on Helicopter - a Reminder of the Importance of Sunday Church for Athletes

The Los Angeles Coroner announced that it confirmed, that Gianna Bryant, 13; Payton Chester, 13; Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; and Christina Mauser, 38, Kobe Bryant, 41; John Altobelli, 56; Sarah Chester, 45; and pilot, 50-year-old Ara Zobayan were all killed in the crash. . The group had been on the way to a basketball game Sunday morning when the helicopter carrying them crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California. There were no survivors. The teenagers were teammates on a basketball team coached by Bryant and Mauser.
Kobe made Sunday Mass a priority for his family - the fact that he and his daughter went to a 7 am Mass at Church before heading to their sports game is a gentle reminder to us all of the importance of Sunday Church. 

#BreakingNews RIP Kobe Bryant - Catholic Basketball Star and Daughter Gianna, age 13, Killed in Helicopter Crash -

It was at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church that the Bryant family attended Sunday Mass. Kobe was also occasionally noted to have attended weekday masses as well. One of the last things Kobe did before last Sunday morning’s helicopter crash that killed him, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna was to stop by Our Lady Queen of Angels for the 7am Mass. According to Father Steve Sallot they also took Communion.
In the online magazine Convivium a priest, Fr. Raymond De Souza, writes,
The juxtaposition, terrible as it is, bluntly reminds us that making time for God on the Lord’s day is the third commandment and remains valid. It should prompt all Christians, particularly Christian parents, to think about how they allocate their time on the Lord’s day. For it’s not actually our time is it? The day belongs to the Lord.

Australia's Archbishop Fisher calls for Hope after the Fires in Homily "..helping… hospitality...should mark the Christian in times of trial." Full Text

Full Text Homily of Sydney, Australia's Archbishop A. Fisher in Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Peter Chanel on Australia Day

Domus Australia, Rome

Our readings today address the trials of Australians today. Amidst great hardship Paul urges us to persevere (Rom 12:9-13) and Isaiah prophesies a time when deserts will become fertile and scrub a thick forest, when the endangered will be secure at last and all dwell in domestic tranquillity (Is 32:15-28). Whatever our trials Christ in our Gospel tells us not to worry so much (Lk 12:22-32).

All of which sounds very “she’ll be right” Aussie in tone and accords with St Mary MacKillop’s regular counsel. But for those in the thick of things, it can sound insensitive or even like victim blaming. Who likes to be told, when in the doldrums about the present or anxious about the future, that ‘chin up, it’ll be okay’. Singing Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy is little comfort when we have every reason to worry and little reason to be jolly. How will it be okay, we might ask, when and for whom? Isaiah’s vision, after all, seems to be of some distant future, not of present comfort. You don’t have to be a cynic to think that for the suffering and displaced a little kingdom of God would be helpful right now, not just at the end of time, a helping hand more welcome than counsel to grin and bear it.

Christianity is an intensely practical religion, and so Isaiah’s dreaming is paired today with Paul’s pragmatism. Reminding us that the Lord’s commanded us to love like He loved, the Apostle warns us that human love can be insincere or grow indifferent. What are the indicia of true Christian love? Showing profound respect for one another, Paul says, or giving everyone a fair go, as Australians put it; ‘working tirelessly’ and ‘not giving up’ Paul says, or in Australian having a go; demonstrating ‘fraternal affection… helping… hospitality’ or what Aussies call mateship – these attitudes, virtues and behaviours, Paul says, not fairy-tales or platitudes, should mark the Christian in times of trial.

It’s precisely crises like Australia’s drought and fires that produce dreams like Isaiah’s dreams of a less harsh land and directions like Paul’s to help those in need. Our recent experience has drawn the world’s attention not just to our extreme weather but also to the ways our people demonstrate solidarity and assist those who are suffering. Christian charities have been in the forefront of those providing shelter, supplies, friendship and intercession – all examples of God sending down the Holy Spirit like the dewfall. I think of local St Vincent de Paul members supporting needy locals even as their own homes burned. Or of the firefighters trying against terrible odds to save what they could – some of whom, including a young father and Sydney Catholic parishioner, giving their lives that others might live. Christian love is not fairy tales about the present or future: it’s practical, compassionate action, here and now, inspired by a vision of a better future.

The fires have welded together firefighters and other responders, from around Australia and overseas, in self-sacrifice even unto death. They’ve brought together those who’ve lost lives or livelihoods, homes or hopes, with the rest of us determined to assist. They’ve united civic leaders and community groups, charities and benefactors, in directing and serving.

The bishops have called for a national campaign of prayer – and since then the weather has been a little kinder! Key Church welfare, health and education agencies are working with local parishes, CatholicCares and Vinnies to ensure a co-ordinated and effective response. While many have already been providing financial and other practical assistance, collections this weekend around Australia will go to the St Vincent de Paul Bushfire Appeal, so we can maintain this momentum and long continue it. Paul’s call in times of trial to assist those most in need and make hospitality our special care has, indeed, been heard.

But what will keep you going, if you’re an exhausted volunteer fire-fighter, a family who’ve lost their home, a charity worker for whom the problem seems too big? Christ tells us in our Gospel today that solidarity, planning and responsiveness will not be enough. Compassion fatigue sets in, anxieties about what we or others are to eat, wear, inhabit. We must, He says, trust in the God whose providence feeds the cockatoos and whose native flora dress the land so splendidly. We must set our hearts on the kingdom of heaven, confident that what we ask for in our big need and little faith will be given us.

Image result for rainbow
After the deluge comes the sunshine, and with it the joyous rainbow. After the fire comes rain from heaven, making arid land fertile again and burnt out forests sprout anew. Such is the cycle we know well in Australia. Uniquely among the world’s landscapes our eucalypts germinate precisely because of the fire and it’s aftermath, and our deserts, given the tiniest rain can bloom with wild flowers and grasses. So, too, with the human dimension of bushfires: the fires can occasion a renewal of our community and its highest ideals, offering us not only immediate relief but new purpose to carry us forward.

As our nation faces its summer catastrophe with courage and compassion, we hear the wonderful words of Jesus Christ in our hearts: Μὴ φοβοῦ τὸ μικρὸν ποίμνιον ὅτι εὐδόκησεν q ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν δοῦναι ὑμῖν τὴν βασιλείαν (Mē phobou, toh micron poim-nion, hoti eudokēsen ho Patēr hymōn dounai hymin tēn basileian): Do not be afraid, my little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom!

Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Peter Chanel

Domus Australia, Rome

Welcome to the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary and St Peter Chanel here at Domus Australia for our Australia Day Mass. I acknowledge in particular concelebrating priests, other clergy, religious and seminarians working in Rome, Mr Matthew Wise, Chargè d’Affaires at the Australian Embassy to the Holy See, the ambassadors and embassy staff of many nations, and other guests. And I thank Monsignor John Boyle, whose term as Rector of Domus Australia is fast coming to its close, not just for his hospitality but for his sterling service these past few years.

Image result for bushfires in australia
We gather at a time of apocalyptic weather in Australia. Three years of drought prepared our land for the most intense bushfire season in our history: so far 18.6 million hectares (46m acres) have been burned, 6,000 buildings razed, hundreds of thousands of people evacuated, and at least 33 people lost, along with perhaps a billion livestock and native animals, including whole species. Meanwhile heavy smoke has invaded our cities and some parts of the country have experienced flash floods, hail storms or lightning strikes. The Yarra River has turned red as blood. It is all rather “biblical”.

So many stories of tragedy and courage. Here, at the opposite end of the world, we can feel powerless to assist. Yet we know that by God’s grace prayer is powerful, and the offering of the Mass most powerful of all. And so today we commend our great southern land to its Creator, asking Him to grant us the ‘safe houses and quiet dwellings’ in a fertile land that our first reading promises. But first we repent of our sins…

Head of Canadian Bishops writes to Prime Minister Trudeau in opposition to Euthanasia/assisted suicide Legislation - @CanadianPM Full Text

The Most Reverend Richard Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), wrote to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, regarding the proposed changes to legislation on the expansion of eligibility criteria for euthanasia/assisted suicide (which the government refers to as "Medical Assistance in Dying/MAiD"). In his letter, after noting that euthanasia/assisted suicide is "the direct taking of human life or the participation in his/her suicide, which can never be justified," the CCCB President states: "We strongly urge the Government of Canada, before proceeding further, to undertake a more extensive, thorough, impartial, and prolonged consultation on the question, in order to ensure all pertinent factors – social, medical, and moral – are carefully and thoroughly considered," and adds "Palliative care, which has yet to become fully realized and accessible in our own country, offers a compelling answer – the only respectful, comprehensive and ethical alternative to the problem the government is trying to address." Source: CCCB

Full Text Letter of Most Reverend Richard Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Dear Prime Minister,
On behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Canada, I write to voice our very serious concern regarding
the proposed changes to the present legislation on what is referred to as “Medical Assistance in
Dying” (MAiD). We unequivocally affirm and maintain the fundamental belief in the sacredness
of all human life, a value that we share with many others in our country, including persons of
different faiths and no faith at all. Despite the misleading euphemism, “Medical Assistance in
Dying” (MAiD) remains simply euthanasia and assisted suicide – that is, the direct taking of
human life or the participation in his/her suicide, which can never be justified. Suffering and
death are indeed terrifying and the instinct to flinch from pain is universal. But euthanasia and
assisted suicide are not the answer. We strongly urge the Government of Canada, before
proceeding further, to undertake a more extensive, thorough, impartial, and prolonged
consultation on the question, in order to ensure all pertinent factors – social, medical, and
moral – are carefully and thoroughly considered.
Dangers and inadequacy of current safeguards
The government’s attempt to expand euthanasia to include advance directives, as well as
extending it to situations in which death is not reasonably foreseeable, is deeply troubling.
Further attempts to make it available to mature minors, the mentally ill, and the cognitively
impaired are evidence that the current safeguards are inadequate and can be legally challenged
and overturned.
The dangers we see now in Canada, and those that can be foreseen by experiences elsewhere
(including euthanasia for depression, child euthanasia, and elder abuse) are shocking and
disturbing, and have no place in any society. At this point in Canada’s history, we should ask,
with integrity and honesty, what kind of culture we are leaving to future generations.
Our hope is to promote a society in which human life will be received and treated as a gift, and
supported in the face of physical, emotional and spiritual vulnerability and suffering. 
- 2 -
Present survey is inappropriate, inadequate and biased
We are disappointed and deeply concerned that the federal government has recently refused to
appeal the Quebec Superior Court ruling on extending euthanasia/assisted suicide to persons
whose deaths are not imminent, i.e., reasonably foreseeable. Furthermore, while we agree in
principle with consulting Canadians, we object to the questionnaire devised by the Department of
1) It is inappropriate and superficial to use a survey to address grave moral questions
concerning life and death;
2) Two weeks is entirely insufficient to study the question as well as to learn from the sobering
lessons in other jurisdictions where euthanasia/assisted suicide has been practised with fewer
3) The way the survey was constructed requires Canadians to agree tacitly in the expansion of
euthanasia before even being able to express opposition and any concerns they may have;
4) The survey failed to give fundamental attention to the fears and concerns of the elderly and
disabled about feeling pressure to relieve their caregivers of the burdens their condition
entails by resorting to assisted suicide/euthanasia;
5) The consultation should take account of the full range of factors that can influence a decision
to request euthanasia/assisted suicide: loneliness, isolation, inadequate or unavailable support
services, abandonment by or lack of family and community support, as well as other
experiences of physical and psychological crisis;
6) The consultation should investigate the patient’s vulnerability to being pressured or coerced
into choosing euthanasia/assisted suicide.
Priority of protecting the vulnerable
The Church’s ministry of healing and accompanying the sick involves national and regional
networks of parishes and healthcare institutions on which vulnerable Canadians and their
families rely for support and care. We know of many who live with profound suffering of one
kind or another. Catholic institutions as well as many individual Catholics, including ourselves
as pastors, minister to the physically disabled, the mentally ill, and the developmentally
challenged. We visit the elderly who are lonely, isolated, abandoned, and insufficiently
supported by healthcare and community services. We listen to those who, gripped by a physical
or psychological crisis, see no reason for going on. All of these people are endangered by
euthanasia/assisted suicide. They need our steadfast support, our advocacy, and indeed the
protection afforded by the very safeguards the government is trying to overturn.
Experience has shown that patients are more likely to request euthanasia/assisted suicide when
their pain is not properly managed by palliative care, when their dependence on others is not
adequately met, or when they are socially marginalized. The loving presence of family, the
support of the community, effective and accessible health care, social support, and researchbased improvements in patient care also make a difference in one’s choice for life. Healthcare
practitioners, elected officials, and policy makers must not have recourse to euthanasia/assisted
suicide as an answer to pressures and deficiencies in the current healthcare system given that an
alternative already exists, namely palliative care. 
- 3 -
We, as Bishops of the Catholic faithful in Canada, call on the government to engage in a more
rigorous, impartial and prolonged study of the problems inherent in euthanasia/assisted suicide
by involving those whose experiences offer a different perspective and even present inconvenient
truths. For example: to hear from parents whose children with mental illness wish to end their
lives; to query healthcare providers who in conscience do not wish to be complicit in, or required
to cooperate in, euthanasia or assisted suicide; to consider cases of the elderly as well as the
physically and cognitively impaired who have been abused by their caregivers; to listen to
mental health professionals whose ongoing struggle involves treating the suicidal thoughts of
their patients; to study the unanticipated results in Belgium and the Netherlands along with the
ever expanding permissibility of euthanasia in their respective legislation. To this end, the
decision announced 27 January 2020 by the Government of Quebec to extend its consultations is
appropriate in so far as there is need to exercise the greatest caution in broadening the conditions
for eligibility.
Palliative care, not MAiD
As citizens, we see all levels of government, abetted by regulatory bodies and the media, give
priority to those who want to choose euthanasia and assisted suicide while providing minimal
funding and support for palliative care, home care and hospices. Palliative care, which has yet to
become fully realized and accessible in our own country, offers a compelling answer – the only
respectful, comprehensive and ethical alternative to the problem the government is trying to
address. Palliative care seeks to alleviate the pain, loneliness, fear, distress, and despair which
can lead to the tragic failure of euthanasia/assisted suicide. It is more humane because it is
anchored in the recognition that human life has an objective value over and above our free
This past October 2019, after what it describes as an intensive process of consultation with
physicians and non-physicians around the world, and in “accord with the views of most
physicians worldwide,” the World Medical Association reaffirmed its long-standing policy of
opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, reiterated “its strong commitment to the
principles of medical ethics and that utmost respect has to be maintained for human life,” and
confirmed its opposition to any physician being forced to participate in euthanasia and assisted
suicide or obliged to make referrals to this end ( Furthermore,
national and international hospice palliative care organizations, including the Canadian Hospice
Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians
(CSPCP), have likewise rejected euthanasia/assisted suicide as being part of hospice palliative
care, noting that they are “fundamentally different” and “differing in multiple areas including in
philosophy, intention and approach” ( Needless to say, there
are also recorded instances of hospices being compelled to follow provincial MAiD regulations
against their inherent and foundational ethos, as has already happened across our own country.
- 4 -
In the hope you will consider our request for a more extensive, thorough, impartial, and
prolonged consultation, I wish to assure you that our Conference would welcome any
opportunity to discuss and explain our concerns further, should you or your ministers so wish.
+Richard Gagnon
Archbishop of Winnipeg
President of the Canadian Conference
of Catholic Bishops
c.c.: The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development
and Disability Inclusion
The Hon. Andrew Scheer, PC, MP, Leader, Conservative Party of Canada
Mr. Yves-François Blanchet, MP, Leader, Bloc Québécois
Mr. Jagmeet Singh, MP, Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada
Ms. Jo-Ann Roberts, MP, Interim Leader, Green Party of Canada</div>

#BreakingNews 40 People Die in Stampede at Christian Arise and Shine Ministry Church in Tanzania - RIP

All Africa reports that Tanzanian president John Magufuli mourned death of at least 40 people including 20 who died late Saturday following a stampede at an evangelical Christian church service in Moshi.
 The president said 20 others were killed in ongoing rains in Lindi, according to a statement issued on Sunday February 2, 2020. The Moshi tragedy happened when a crowd of worshippers was attending a prayer ceremony on Saturday led by the popular preacher, Boniface Mwamposa, who heads the Arise and Shine Ministry Tanzania. The stampede occurred when Mwamposa, who calls himself the "Apostle", poured what he said was holy oil on the ground and the crowd surged toward to touch it in the hope of being cured of sickness, witnesses said. "The Apostle Boniface Mwamposa poured sacred anointing oil on the ground," one witness, Jennifer Temu, told AFP. Police asked Mr Mwamposa to voluntarily report for questioning and investigations. Inspector General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro said 16 others were injured. "We have launched investigations on the deaths in Moshi," said Mr Sirro. "Some churches are disturbing us and we will see what to do," he added. President Magufuli said the deaths were shocking and prayed for the survivors. "I'm really sorry for these deaths of Tanzanians," he said. Shared from All Africa - Citizen. Image Source: Google Images of the Stampede

Funeral Homily for Fr. Evan Harkins - his Bishop explains the Medication he took caused Anxiety and emphasized his Deep Faith

Full Text - Homily: Funeral Mass of Fr. Evan Harkins

Patrick and Allyson, Caroline, Adam, John-Paul, and Anna.  I want you to briefly look around you. The people here this morning represent just a small fraction of those who were impacted by your son and brother, Father Evan Harkins.  It’s a sign of several things: of how much Father Evan was loved by so many; of how many people he reached and helped and fed and healed as a priest of Jesus Christ in his service; it’s a sign of how much we all want to be with you in this time of loss; and it’s a sign of how much we want to be close to Jesus together as we say goodbye to Evan and surrender Him to the Father, who is kind and merciful, and who, as we heard in the Gospel, has prepared a place for Father Evan and everyone in the Family of God.
As I said, this is just a small part of those whom Father affected as a Catholic priest.  One of his classmates studying with him last year in Washington at Catholic University of America wrote me and said:
I remember the wonderful moments I could be with this gentle man at CUA. he was very kind, simple and a man with great vision about church and ministry. Actually I was inspired by him.” (sic)
So, at the outset, I want to express our sorrows and our pledge of love and prayer for you, Father Evan’s family. You have suddenly and mysteriously received a fuller share of the cross.  But, we also want to express our gratitude to you too. Because it was consistently clear how deeply Father Evan was rooted in your family life his entire life. In an interview with the Catholic Key just before his ordination ten years ago, Father Evan said this:
One of the things that inspired me was the selfless love my parents have for each other.  I saw holiness lived out in the things they did—things Mother did at home that Dad never knew about.  My parents were receptive to the miraculous grace of marriage. Having known and watched them as I was growing up helped bring thoughts of the priesthood to the forefront for me.”  
Patrick and Allyson, we are grateful that you formed and gave us such a good man to be our father and our brother.
When he was 8 years old, one evening after sweeping the kitchen floor, young Evan found his mother in their garden and told her he thought God might be calling him to be a priest.  From that point on you accompanied Evan as he responded to God’s call.
We are also grateful to you, his siblings.  Evan was your big brother and he took that role to heart.  Before he became a priest-father, he practiced on you. He set the example, but also was your best friend.  I understand he even had a special nickname for each of you. And this big brother continued to be a solid rock for you when your mom was fighting cancer.  He got you all interested in rock climbing … of all things … even his parents. I just cannot imagine your family out climbing up the rock face of a mountain.  Even the Von Trapps didn’t do that.
There are so many other things that I could say about him, and his life with you.  The point is that the Father Harkins we loved so much, was first the Evan you loved so much.  And, it was because of your love and God’s love that we received the gift of this man and this priest. 
Along with his own family, we acknowledge the deep loss experienced by his parish at St. James where Father Evan served these past 8 years.  I ask you to especially remember the children and youth of the parish who are hurting. And, I want to mention our priests. We are crushed at this loss of our brother.  We admired Evan and loved him dearly. Please pray for our priests, and please love your priests.  
One of my last and favorite memories of Father Harkins was just this past December when I joined him and the Saint James parish in St. Joseph for the celebration of their 150th anniversary.  Father Harkins had just completed a major repair of the truss system holding up the roof.  It had been put off for decades because it was such a big and expensive undertaking. It had reached a crisis point and could no longer be avoided without a potential collapse and danger to the people.  It was so bad that when it rained, Father literally needed an umbrella in the confessional. With his firm and gentle leadership, Father not only had a successful campaign to fix the roof, but also to undertake and complete a major renovation of the interior of the church too.  
So, we were celebrating all these things.  Following the Anniversary Mass, a reception was held at the Knights of Columbus Hall on the other side of town.  I decided to simply follow Father Harkins to the dinner. My first thought was, “this guy drives a mini-Cooper!” Now, you can’t always judge someone’s personality by the car they drive, but if someone drives a mini-Cooper, well, you can. Let’s just say there’s a cool factor there.  It was one of those things that was indicative of his personality: a combination of intelligent, curious, kind, artistic, quirky funny, and just fun.
The other thing I noticed that night was that he was taking me through this labyrinth of obscure streets at a fairly fast pace, and I began to wonder, “Is he trying to ditch the bishop?”
We had a great celebration that night and it was just one example of his many gifts that were used for the Kingdom of God.  Most of you here today can speak of similar things: those of you who were close priest friends, or his spiritual directees at Conception Seminary, or as students from Benedictine College; or as seminary classmates; or seminarians who had a summer internship with him; or those of you in the parishes at which he served, including here at St. Therese, his first assignment, or at St. James most recently.
But, even with our own recollections, it’s important again to hear Father Evan’s own words in which he said this about the priesthood in that same interview with the Key; he said:
“[The priest] brings the channels of Christ’s grace to the sacraments: New life though baptism; absolution thought the sacrament of Penance, His love for us and His grace though the Eucharist.  A priest is a bridge connecting people to God in a sacramental way, and he extends Christ’s love for His Church, in a human way. I see a lot of pain and sadness in the world. You can see it in people’s eyes.  Satan makes people unsure of who they are. To me being ordained a priest is to be sent out in to the world to give God to people and His gifts of joy and truth. I think that’s awesome; there is nothing beyond that I could want.”
I share those words with you for a reason.  Even though he spoke those words on the eve of his ordination, he just as easily would have said them last week, or any day of the past 10 years he was a priest.  And he lived that way.
Father Evan Harkins was consistent as a joyful, faith-filled, hopeful, dedicated priest.  He never experienced depression or despair. As the old country song would say, he walked on the “sunny side” of life.  
And so, part of our anguish these past days is this paradox.  How could this have happened? How could Father Harkins have died like this?
While we will never know everything this side of heaven, there are some things that can help.  
Just a month ago, at the start of the New Year, Father began to experience some serious deterioration of his health that scared him.  His stomach and gastrointestinal tract stopped working and he could not take in food. He would go days without any nourishment and become so weak that he needed to go to the hospital.  This was accompanied by extreme anxiety, and it was such that he didn’t know if the anxiety was from the stomach problem or if the anxiety was the source of the stomach problem. He was given a prescription drug to deal with the anxiety and was experiencing some of the extreme negative side effects of this drug including terrible nightmares, among other things.  
I share this with you all, with the permission of his family, because I do not believe Father Harkins was in possession of a sound mind when he died earlier this week.  His parents and his friends noticed in the weeks leading up to his death that things were not right, that he was not himself, and something was seriously wrong.  
This is important for you to know, because it is easy to jump to other conclusions without knowing these facts.  It does not take away our grief at his terrible loss, but it does help us to see this in a different light.
I’ve spoken much about Father Evan and our love for him, but I now speak of the person that brings us together today: Jesus Christ.  Without Christ, Father Harkins would not have been a priest, and further, without Christ, Father Harkins would not have even been born.  Without Christ, none of us would be here.  
Christ is the one we turn to now because it is He who saves us.  
Christ is the one who puts us in relationship with His Father and Our Father: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” (Jn. 14:2)
Christ is the one we turn to now because He reassures us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” (Jn. 14:1)
Christ is the one who is the way home to heaven: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes the Father except through me.” (Jn. 14:6)
We now go “through, with and in Christ, in the Holy Spirit, to the Father” in this Eucharist to offer the supreme sacrifice for sins for Father Evan, confident in the saving power of Christ’s sacrifice.  We use the chalice that Father Harkins used when he offered this sacrifice himself as a priest for the salvation of his parish and the entire world.  
We do this with confidence because we know that “God is for us.”  And, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31)
We do this with confidence because, “It is God who acquits us.” (Rom. 8:33) We do this filled with hope because, it is Christ “who indeed intercedes for us.” (Rom. 8:34)
We do this with faith because we know that no created thing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:39)
So, let us speak of Christ, the crucified and risen one, the “firstborn from the dead.” (Col. 1:18)  It is He to whom Father Evan was united in baptism.  It was He who nourished Father Evan with the divine life of grace in the Holy Eucharist.  It was He to whom Evan was configured as a priest forever through sacred orders.  
Our hope for Father Evan is in Christ.  Our hope for ourselves is in Christ. We trust in the awesome gift of God’s Divine Mercy that comes to us through the pierced Heart of Christ, a devotion that was central to Father Harkins’ spiritual life. And so we can all say with confidence, “Jesus, I trust in You” and commend Father Evan to the merciful embrace of Christ.
Father Harkins also loved the Blessed Mother.  Along with his earthly mother, Allyson, Mary was his Mother too, and a source of great strength and help to him his entire life.  Evan even penned several sonnets to the Blessed Mother in his youth that are quite beautiful.  
Like Mary, Father Evan’s earthly mom has had her heart pierced with a sword of sorrow, not of the same spiritual intensity, but real nonetheless and something only a mother can receive.  And like no one else on earth, Father Evan’s mother kept certain things in her heart, and so I conclude with words from the mother of Father Evan Harkins, the priest we commend to God today:
“I have tried in these last few hard days to think what Father Evan would say to us. There have been moments through the years when I shared with him a deep pain or a burden I was facing and his words to me were always the same: Don’t give in to those dark thoughts. Jesus loves you so, so much. You are his beloved child. You must keep that in your heart and in the front of your mind. 
Two verses of Scripture to hang on to: Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” and Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”
Father was known for giving his parishioners a weekly assignment at the end of his homily every Sunday. If he were here, he would give us an assignment. So for your assignment this week: Give thanks to God for the wonderful gift Father Evan was and is. Share a precious, a profound or a funny memory of Father Evan with someone. Extend to those you encounter the acceptance, and the peace, and the quiet love that Father Evan always communicated to each of us.” (Allyson Harkins)  
+Bishop James Johnston, Jr.
Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph
February 1, 2020

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Monday, February 3, 2020 - #Eucharist with Cardinal Collins

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 323
Reading 12 SM 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13
An informant came to David with the report,
“The children of Israel have transferred their loyalty to Absalom.”
At this, David said to all his servants
who were with him in Jerusalem:
“Up!  Let us take flight, or none of us will escape from Absalom.
Leave quickly, lest he hurry and overtake us,
then visit disaster upon us and put the city to the sword.”
As David went up the Mount of Olives, he wept without ceasing.
His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot.
All those who were with him also had their heads covered
and were weeping as they went.
As David was approaching Bahurim,
a man named Shimei, the son of Gera
of the same clan as Saul’s family,
was coming out of the place, cursing as he came.
He threw stones at David and at all the king’s officers,
even though all the soldiers, including the royal guard,
were on David’s right and on his left.
Shimei was saying as he cursed:
“Away, away, you murderous and wicked man!
The LORD has requited you for all the bloodshed in the family of Saul,
in whose stead you became king,
and the LORD has given over the kingdom to your son Absalom.
And now you suffer ruin because you are a murderer.”
Abishai, son of Zeruiah, said to the king:
“Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?
Let me go over, please, and lop off his head.”
But the king replied: “What business is it of mine or of yours,
sons of Zeruiah, that he curses?
Suppose the LORD has told him to curse David;
who then will dare to say, ‘Why are you doing this?’”
Then the king said to Abishai and to all his servants:
“If my own son, who came forth from my loins, is seeking my life,
how much more might this Benjaminite do so?
Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.
Perhaps the LORD will look upon my affliction
and make it up to me with benefits
for the curses he is uttering this day.”
David and his men continued on the road,
while Shimei kept abreast of them on the hillside,
all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt as he went.

Responsorial3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R.    (8a)  Lord, rise up and save me.
O LORD, how many are my adversaries!
Many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”
R.    Lord, rise up and save me.
But you, O LORD, are my shield;
my glory, you lift up my head!
When I call out to the LORD,
he answers me from his holy mountain.
R.    Lord, rise up and save me.
When I lie down in sleep,
I wake again, for the LORD sustains me.
I fear not the myriads of people
arrayed against me on every side.
R.    Lord, rise up and save me.

AlleluiaLK 7:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 5:1-20

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
crying out in a loud voice,
“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!”
(He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”)
He asked him, “What is your name?”
He  replied, “Legion is my name.  There are many of us.”
And he pleaded earnestly with him
not to drive them away from that territory.
Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with him,
“Send us into the swine.  Let us enter them.”
And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
As they approached Jesus,
they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.
And they were seized with fear.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
“Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.