Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

8/4/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Life is like a bus ride.  We move forward with our bags packed, hoping that when the bus stops and the door opens, we will be at the right location.


By Fr. James Farfaglia

Catholic Online (

8/4/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: mortality, Year of Faith, Sunday homily, catholic homily, homilies, father james farfaglia, 9/11, World Trade Center, Tom Monagahan, Ave Maria University, money, materialism, consumerism, death, secularism, transcendent, eternal life

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - The summer following the tragic events of September 11, I took the time to visit New York City and "ground-zero" during my home visit to Binghamton, NY.

My visit to Manhattan gave me the opportunity to reconnect with a high-school friend whom I had not seen since 1979.  He worked in an office building located three blocks from "ground-zero."

We met at his apartment on the north side of Manhattan.

The 45-minute subway ride took us to the spot where the World Trade Center once proudly stood.
Although my friend was one of the many who could walk away from lower Manhattan through the billowing cloud of smoke and dust, he graciously allowed me to visit something that I had to see.  I needed to stand on hallowed ground and pray for the dead.

As we got off of the subway and walked towards "ground-zero," I quickly began to perceive the horrific suffering of the innocent and the heroic.  Hundreds of people lined up along the fences to look, to pray, to remember and to cry.

As I gazed upon the craters where the towers once rested, the prominent iron cross, the American flag proudly flying in the gentle breeze and the countless memorials erected along the surrounding sidewalks, I reflected upon the fundamental questions of human existence.  Who am I?  What is the purpose of life?  What happens when this life comes to an end?

In light of these questions, is the salvation of your soul worth more than the home that you live in, the school that your children attend, the size of your portfolio or the car that you drive?

Let us recall words from this Sunday's Old Testament reading: "Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1: 2).

The World Trade Center, symbol of economic power and prosperity, was snuffed out in a short span of time.  All of the fallen faced their Creator without their home, their education, their investments or their car.

For the fallen, this life had ended and eternity began.  But for the millions that remain, it seems that for the majority, life went on unchanged by the apocalyptic events of September 11.

The fundamental questions are never asked and no desire for transcendence occurs.

Atheism causes disbelief in God.  Nevertheless, the atheist is usually passionate about an ideological cause.  Secularism is different.  It suffocates the soul and kills it.

The secularist is only interested in the here and now.  The desire for eternal life is converted into passion for money, sports, entertainment, pleasure, and fame.

As we read this Sunday's second reading from Saint Paul, we are reminded how to find meaning in life, establish a hierarchy of values and place priorities in the things of eternity.      "If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3: 1-3).

As I contemplated the large empty craters that once gave support to the Twin Towers, I recalled the familiar words of Ash Wednesday:  "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return."

These words tie in perfectly to the words that we pray in this weekend's responsorial psalm:  "You turn man back to dust, saying, 'Return, O children of men'. For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch of the night" (Psalm 90: 3-5).

As a Catholic priest I have often seen death close at hand.  For more than twenty-five years, I have prayed at the side of little babies, children, teenagers, adults in their prime and adults in the twilight of their lives as they died.  Death comes at any age.

No matter how many advances science may bring to our contemporary world, no one will ever be able to keep people from dying.  Dying is a part of life.  It is part of our earthly existence.

When we were little children we learned the simple, yet profound truth from our catechism lessons about our existence.  Why did God make me?  God made me to know him, to love him, to serve him in this world and to be happy with him in everlasting life. Here lies the plain truth about our life on earth.  We will not be here forever.

Life is like a bus ride.  We move forward with our bags packed, hoping that when the bus stops and the door opens, we will be at the right location.

We must remember the fundamental truth of Revelation: eternity consists of three states: heaven, purgatory and hell.  To deny the existence of purgatory and hell is to deny Christianity.

To tell people that everyone is going to heaven is to deprive them of the truth.  It is a lie to tell people that everyone is saved.

Moreover, when people accept this lie, the very lie may even endanger their eternal salvation because they will no longer be using the necessary means of salvation in order to gain eternal life.

"Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator" (Colossians 3: 5-10).

One day each of us will stand before God for judgment.  We will stand before God without a lawyer, without family and friends to support us.  We will stand alone before Almighty God.  Each day could be our last day on earth.

We should each ask ourselves today, if I were to die today, how would God judge me?

Is there any particular sin, attachment, or attitude that might be an obstacle to my eternal salvation?  Rather than becoming sad when we consider our own death, the reality of leaving this life and facing God for judgment should lead us to continual conversion.

Let us remember the words from this Sunday's gospel passage: "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions" (Luke 12: 15).

A very dear friend of mine has spent most of his adult life in the lay apostolic work of the Catholic Church.  Now, as he has entered his mature years and enjoys the fruits of his many labors, he sets his eyes on eternity.
In order to help him prepare for eternity, a number of years ago, he commissioned a friend to make him a simple coffin made of pine.  The coffin sits in his basement, waiting for the day when his mortal remains will rest.  To some, this idea may seem strange, even morbid.  However, a visible reminder of death is an excellent aid to meditate on the reality of death and prepare for eternal life.

Our reflection on death must fill us with hope in the reward of eternal life, however, our thoughts should also remind us that we need to be well prepared and ready for that mysterious day when the Lord call us to himself.

This Sunday's liturgy is not inviting us to live unconcerned for the things of this world.  We cannot live reckless lives, waiting for pennies to fall from heaven.  Christian stewardship means that we take our time, talent and financial resources, and do all that we can to make this world a better place for everyone.

There is nothing wrong about enjoying God's creation.

Christians need to dress properly, enjoy their homes and properly enjoy all that God provides us.  However, we are called to live detached from the things of this earth and remember that creatures are only stepping stones on our journey towards eternity.

One man who has correctly understood Christian stewardship is Tom Monaghan.

Tom Monaghan's early childhood was a true test of endurance. His father died on Christmas Eve when he was only four years old. Tom's mother could not support his brother Jim and himself on her salary of only $27.50 a week so she decided to put the two brothers into a foster home.

After many years of hard work, in 1960, Tom and his brother Jim borrowed $900 to buy a pizzeria named Dominick's in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Tom's success certainly did not happen overnight. In his first 13 years in the business, he worked 100 hour work weeks, seven days a week. He only had one vacation, and that was for six days when he got married to his wife Margie.

By the late 1970's, Domino's was up to over 200 locations. The 1980's proved to have phenomenal growth. In 1985, sales topped $1 billion and just three years later, sales hit over $2 billion. The number one pizza delivery company in the world closed out the decade with over 5,000 locations.

Tom Monaghan hit the headlines in December 1998 when he sold his company, the international pizza giant Domino's, and raised over a billion dollars from the sale. His motivation: to give his money away to Catholic and pro-life charities. "I feel it's God's money and I want to use it for the highest possible purpose - to help as many people as possible get to heaven."

Aside from founding Legatus, a Catholic association of businessmen, Monaghan is best known for his founding and developing Ave Maria University in Florida.

Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.  Visit him on the web at


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.


More Year of Faith

Regret of Judas or Repentance of Peter?

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - I didn't steal any cookies mommy! says a little boy whose mother asked him if he was hungry, wiping the ... continue reading

Pentecost: St Cyril of Jerusalem on The Living Water of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online

The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man's self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches ... continue reading

The Wedding Invitation of Jesus: We are Called to Live the Nuptial Mystery Watch

Image of There will be no giving or taking in marriage in the kingdom to come because the very purpose and meaning of marriage itself will be fulfilled. (See, e.g. Mk. 12:18-27) We will be living in the fullness of the Communion of Love with the Trinity. The symbol will give way to the eternal reality, the Sacrament will be fulfilled in the fullness of communion. All of human love will be completed in the Love which lasts forever.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the whole human race.  Marriage was God's plan from the beginning as we see in the first book of Genesis. Throughout the Old ... continue reading

The Sower. The Seed. The Field. Understanding the Christian Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

"A sower went out to sow. And, as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for ... continue reading

Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible Watch

Image of

By Michael Terheyden

How we interpret the Bible is of immense importance! It directly affects what we believe about Christ, the Church, and our faith, but it is also related to many of the grave problems in our society and the world. Yet, despite the gravity of this situation, we have good ... continue reading

Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture Watch

Image of On this Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comes to a ceremonial end. However, in reality, it cannot and will not end, because Jesus Christ is King! The Year of Faith was only the beginning for those who choose to live the Life of Faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Church year offers to each one of us to consider the creature called time, receive it as a gift, and begin to really live our lives differently.  This is one of ... continue reading

The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith Watch

Image of The bones of St. Peter the Apostle

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Sunday which marks both the end of the Church Year and the end of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis greeted thousands of the faithful and presided over Holy Mass and the ... continue reading

Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer Watch

Image of Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. 

With hearts clear and focused on our Lord, we can follow the advice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Everything starts with prayer. Love to pray--feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. The more you pray, the easier it becomes. Perfect prayer does not consist of many words but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. (Fr. Randy Sly)

By Father Randy Sly

Becoming a House of Prayer is the best discipline we can take on. St. Ephraem of Syria states that Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy ... continue reading

Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If this day you only knew what makes for peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your ... continue reading

The Kingdom of God is Among You. What Did Jesus Mean? Watch

Image of The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. Indeed, we call an apostolate every activity of the Mystical Body that aims to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth. (CCC#863)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In Jesus Christ, the Kingdom has been inaugurated. Upon his return it will be made complete and fully manifested in a new heaven and a new earth. We are members of the Body of Christ which makes it present here and now - as seed and sign for a world which is in labor. ... continue reading

All Year of Faith News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Daily Reading for Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 HD Video
  • Advent Prayer HD Video
  • Alabama Supreme court recognizes same-sex adoption
  • Pope Francis delivers special jubilee Mass for deacons
  • 100k Americans work for China as China continues to purchase major US ...
  • Daily Readings for Monday, May 30, 2016
  • St. Joan of Arc: Saint of the Day for Monday, May 30, 2016

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Peter 1:2-7
2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of our ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 91:1-2, 14-15, 15-16
1 You who live in the secret place of Elyon, spend your nights in the ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 12:1-12
1 He went on to speak to them in parables, 'A man planted a vineyard; he ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 30th, 2016 Image

St. Joan of Arc
May 30: St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and ... Read More