Saturday, 08 August 2009
I have been maintaining this blog off and on since 2005 and hope that at least some people have found this helpful. Now that I am in parish ministry, people are often asking for copies of homilies and I have even been asked if I could create a podcast. Well, after much searching I have decided to move my website and blog to a new home. I know have my own hosted site which you can find at the following address:
There you will also find links to subscribe to the podcast of my homilies and various other talks. I am working at porting over some of the posts from this site, including the popular accounts of my pilgrimage through the Holy Land. The new site is not very visually appealing yet, but I'll work on it as I get time. Please check out the new site and thanks for reading.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
As many of you are aware, this past week has marked the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. I confess that I do tend to fit the category of the proverbial "space cadet" and have been watching a lot of old TV coverage and reading a lot of books about the space race lately. In a recently released book I came across this rather interesting quote from one of the people charged with selecting the very first group of astronauts:
"When NASA began looking for astronauts, we spent a long time discussing the psychological requisites necessary for an astronaut, and the result of our discussion was that we ought to look for them among the priests....A young, healthy priest, qualified in engineering, in chemistry, in medicine, in geology, and able to pilot a plane competently" (Rocket Men, Craig Nelson, pp34-5).
I might have to learn a little more in the medicine and geology fields, but as for the rest I think I fit the bill very nicely. If anyone from NASA is out there reading, I recommend revisiting this initial wisdom. To think that if we had started the space program today I could have been one of the first Mercury astronauts! I thought getting my pilot's license would be as close as I ever got to space, but now I have new hope. Therefore...
"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the next decade is out, of landing a priest on the moon and returning him safely to earth."
If you thought "man on the moon" was impressive, just wait until you experience "Mass on the moon"!
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
I recently had the honor of being invited to give the keynote address to the annual Kansas Legislative Pro-Life Prayer breakfast. This is a gathering of all the pro-life senators and representatives from Kansas as well as many other guests. There were several hundred people filling the Sunflower Ball Room at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka, including Senators Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts. I used some of my text from the homily I gave for the Mass for Life below, but here is the "live" video version of the address if you are interested. It really is amazing how God can place just a baby priest like me in this kind of situation. Praise the Holy Spirit!
Friday, 23 January 2009
Following is the text of the homily I gave at the annual Mass for Life held in Topeka on the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade. The Mass was held at Assumption Catholic Church across from the state capitol and judicial center where a large March for Life and rally had just concluded.
Mass for Life - January 22, 2009
My name is Fr. Shawn Tunink and I am the Associate Pastor at Most Pure Heart of Mary parish here in Topeka and also the chaplain at Hayden High School here. I’d like to welcome both those here from Topeka and especially those who have joined us from all across our great state of Kansas. Know that there are many others who would like to be here. Due to the limited space here, most of the students from Hayden and our grade schools have returned to school.
Although the walls of our church limit the numbers physically present, we gather here mindful that we do so in solidarity with many others. In parish churches and cathedrals all across the country today we gather to pray. Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters who at this very moment are marching for life in Washington, D.C. The March for Life West Coast will soon be taking place in San Francisco. We join with those gathered in state capitols and government offices across the country. In the face of evil, one of the most important things we can do is to gather together to pray. Today, we most certainly are aware that we are not alone.
Our gathering today is one of mixed emotions. In the yearly cycle of celebrations on our church calendar, surely this is a day that we wish we did not have to commemorate. Yet, the spirit of this day is one of hope, and not merely a worldly hope or wish that somehow things would be different. It is a hope informed by our faith and centered in the love of God.
I remember being in Washington eight years ago for a different presidential inauguration. On that day many people were saying that there was now a great hope for the pro-life movement. In the previous years we had gathered in front of the White House knowing that the man inside would veto any meager pro-life legislation we might try to pass. Then, on that day, we had hope that the newly inaugurated president was one of us. We felt a renewed sense of optimism that we had an ally in the White House. This largely proved to be true over the last 8 years.
Today, our new president is undoubtedly the most pro-abortion president in history, and people are tempted to lose hope. In the face of legislation that could wipe out all the modest advances in pro-life legislation we’ve passed over the last 36 years, we might be tempted to lose hope. The lesson here is that we must not judge our success by what legislation we are able to pass. We must not put our hope in whoever the latest president might be, and we can never hope for an earthly Supreme Court to render the justice only God can give. Despite all of the clouds that gather around us we most surely gather in great hope today, for our hope is centered not on the things of this earth, but in God, a God who is faithful and assures us the victory.
On this day especially the pro-abortion forces look at us and ask, “Why are you still here? Don’t you know that this issue has been decided? It’s been 36 years, when are you going to go away?” Yet as we look around our church today and at the rallies here and across the country, we are encouraged by so many young faces. There are many here that have been fighting this battle for 36 years now and I'm sure it brings them great joy to see all of you young people here today. No, we’re not going anywhere. For those who have carried the touch these many years and continue to do so, we are thankful. For those students here for the first time, this torch is being passed to you and you give us great hope.
Those who favor abortion are indeed eager to see us give up. They are puzzled by the fact that we continue to fight so strongly and think they can end the debate by telling us simply, “If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one.” We don’t have to go back too far in our nation’s history to arrive at the time when many people claimed “If you are opposed to owning slaves, then don’t own one.” That answer was not acceptable then, and it is not acceptable now. It was not hard to reason that if some people were only acknowledged to be 3/5ths of a person then our country could not last. Our Kansas “free state” ancestors knew the stakes were high and they were willing to go to war rather than quietly allow the country to self-destruct.
Today, we are met with claims that some people are even less than 3/5ths of a person; some people are not people at all. Or worse, maybe they really are people, but we should have the right to kill them anyway because they are inconvenient or unwanted...sadly oftentimes just…not useful. In the 1860’s they realized that, as sad as it was to think about the prospect of spilling American blood on our soil, it was worth going to war to save the nation. It was not enough to be personally opposed to slavery. The 3/5ths compromise did not bring peace then nor will compromise with evil bring peace now.
And so we must fight. Sadly, today we need not contemplate the future possibility of the shedding of American blood on American soil, for the blood of 50 million innocent children already stains our land and continues to flow. Rather than a future possibility, this is the sad present reality, and it is for this reason that we fight. We are at war to save our souls, the souls of our children and the soul of our nation. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “We are now met on a great battlefield of that war, testing whether this nation or any other nation can long endure.” We are here because we love our country and it is worth fighting for.
Yet, it is impossible to love our country if we fail to love our brothers and sisters. For that reason we are here today to pray for the innocent children in danger of abortion. We are here today to stand up for women who have been victimized by the abortion industry. We are here today in solidarity with our elderly brothers and sisters who are suffering at the end of their lives and see no reason to live. We are here today to pray for inmates on death row. We are here today to appeal to scientists and doctors not to use their God-given talents to destroy the very lives they should be trying to save. We are here today to tell our elected officials that no legislation that removes the freedom of choice for people of conscience to object to abortion, or removes the freedom of choice for parents to be involved in the lives of their teenage daughters, or that forces tax payers to fund the murder of children…we are here today to say that no such legislation could ever be called a “freedom of choice act” and is not worthy to even be spoken of in the hallowed halls of our capitol.
Most importantly, we are here today because we love God and we know that this is a war that we cannot win on our own. This is a war whose first shots were fired when Satan chose to use his freedom to tell God, “I will not serve.” The battle over abortion is just the latest battle in the ongoing war of the kingdom of God verses the kingdom of Satan. St. Paul reminds us that our fight is not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers. Therefore our weapons must be those of prayer and fasting, humility, and most importantly…love. We fight with love. Only the God who is love can overcome the cycle of fear, hate, and death in which we are now trapped. If we fight through, with, and in his love, there is no doubt who wins this war in the end.
In scripture we read that our Israelite ancestors, in order to purge themselves of the collective sin of their community, would gather each year and symbolically lay the guilt of all onto a goat which they would then drive out into the desert, the so-called “scapegoat.” Today we gather in similar fashion to do penance for the sins of our nation and seek to drive the sin of abortion far away from our land. We may have no goat with us today on which to lay this guilt, but we have something better. We have the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of not just our nation, but the sins of the world.
The book of Revelation sings about this lamb and it is filled with hymns of victory. The lamb is victorious over sin and death. Today, although we are indeed met on a great battlefield of this ongoing war, we are also here to remind ourselves that we are the winners. We are here to claim victory! Although the final victory still awaits us, in the timelessness of the Eucharistic sacrifice which we are about to offer, we join the angels and saints as they sing their hymn of victory with the lamb. We join with St. Michael and all the holy angels as they celebrate their victory over the angels of darkness. And yes, we join with the souls of all the victims of abortion who stand around the throne and urge us on in the fight, that one day we might join them.
Often war seems to bring out the worst in people. But as we have said, this is a different kind of war. Whenever we in the pro-life movement gather you cannot help but notice that there you will find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…as our 8th graders could probably tell you…all the fruits of the Holy Spirit. To confront the evil spirit that we must battle, we need the Holy Spirit.
To wherever there is darkness, confusion and death, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To wherever there is fear and doubt, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To wherever women are alone and feel they have no choice, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To homes and families broken by abortion, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To the bedside of the suffering and dying, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To the laboratories of scientists who would experiment with life, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To the halls of justice near death row, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To Wichita and all cities stained with the blood of the abortion mills, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To doctors who have forgotten what it means to be instruments of healing, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To the halls of our legislatures, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To our Supreme Court buildings, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To the office of our governor and the oval office, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To the hearts of all men and women whose hearts are hardened against life, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
To the hearts of all who long to see the day when life will be victorious, we pray…Come, Holy Spirit
Almighty God, this battle is one that we cannot and do not fight alone. We need your help and healing. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you will renew the face of the earth. May it be so. Amen
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
One of the most famous lines from the Declaration of Independence includes the following familiar words:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that 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."
In yesterday's inaugural address, President Obama restated the text this way:
"The time has come to...carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."
Though subtle, there are major differences between these two citations that I think tell us some very important things about our new President, but also about the spirit of the age in which we live.
- In the Declaration the principles being affirmed are called self-evident truths. Notice that there is no mention of truth in the President's restatement. Instead, we have a "noble idea." Self-evident truth implies an objective reality that is clearly known by all. An "idea" exists in subjective reality. It is not self-evident and true in itself. Rather it must be "passed on from generation to generation" to be accepted or rejected as people see fit.
- In the Declaration we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights. In the rewrite there are no rights that are given by a higher power. Rather what is given is a "promise" that we already are equal, free etc. We need to really look hard at the differences between the two texts here because they show some very critical differences in world views.
For one thing, notice that the idea of a Creator is removed from the rewrite. If we are created then this implies that we are inferior to and dependent upon the one who created us. It is much more comfortable for our modern independent mindset to reduce the Creator down to "God" who can remain as a distant and merely observing power.
Look carefully also at the difference between a "right" and a "promise." The Declaration says we have rights that are inherent in our creation. This is a statement of fact that does not depend on anyone's opinion. What does it even mean to say that God would "promise" that "all are equal?" Notice the omission again of the notion of creation. Either people are inherently equal or they are not; either they have rites or they don't. There is no such thing as a "promise" of truth.
- Finally, let's compare the lists of rights/promises:
Declaration - "All men are created equal" / Obama - "All are equal"
Declaration - "Liberty" / Obama - "All are free"
Declaration - "Pursuit of happiness" / Obama "...pursue their full measure of happiness"
Let's see...equality...liberty...pursuit of happiness...
The right to LIFE!
Don't think that the changes made in President Obama's rewrite of the Declaration of Independence were done casually. Each change reflects a diliberate rejection of the world view espoused by the founders. Most especially, don't think for one minute that the right to life was accidentally left off the list of "promises."
- Nationality: American
- Religion: Catholic
- Heroes: Pope John Paul the Great
- Interests: God, Jesus, His bride the Church, the Holy Spirit, Heaven, Angels, Saints, The Bible, Boy Scouts, Computers, Music, Trumpet, Theater, Jayhawks, Royals, Cubs, and Chiefs
- Expertise: I like teaching people about the Liturgy, the public prayer of the Church. Helping people understand the history of the Mass and how to pray well are important to me.
- Occupation: Priest
- Industry: Saving Souls