Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A (July 31, 2005)

“They all ate and were satisfied.”

For the past few weeks, the Sunday Gospels have given us an opportunity to meditate on the Kingdom of Heaven as described by our Lord through parables. Today, however, the Church shifts Her gaze from parables to our Blessed Lord Himself and the miracles He works out of care for His flock.

We cannot dismiss the Miracles of Jesus as fanciful tales or idle stories. These mighty works accompany His words and bear witness to the Truth; they strengthen our faith and remind us that Jesus is no ordinary man: He is the Son of God. Nevertheless, these “signs and wonders” have also been points of contention throughout history. Many scholars have scoffed at the very idea of miracles. Thomas Jefferson was quite fond of the teachings of Jesus; nevertheless he edited the Gospels to completely remove all the miracles of our Lord.

Can we – as so many would like – simply ignore His miracles? Must we, along with Thomas Jefferson and others, reject these miracles to avoid a God so powerful that He can become a man, be born of a virgin, heal the sick, raise the dead, feed thousands with a few loaves of bread – and yet be apparently so weak that He can suffer and die the death of a common criminal?

We hear of two miracles today. The first is easily overlooked, but is essential to understand the sign Jesus works in the loaves. After leaving the boat, Jesus’ heart is moved with a deep and profound pity for the vast crowd. So what does he do? He cures the sick. He spends the entire day curing the sick, for the crowds remained until it was evening. The crowds must have been tired, since they had followed Jesus to this deserted place and remained despite their lack of food. Something compelled them to remain.

How confusing for Jesus to ask His disciples for the meager rations of five loaves and two fish; how indeed could such a small amount feed a crowd so large? Yet they listen and obey. Miraculously, five loaves and two fish in the hands of Jesus are enough to satisfy five-thousand men – not counting women and children – and fill twelve wicker baskets beside. He who created the entire world has no trouble multiplying fish and bread to feed a hungry crowd. Such a miracle of superabundance is not simply an exhortation to share what we have been given; it is rather a radical statement that Jesus, and only Jesus, can satisfy the deeper hunger that plagues our souls.

Are we content to spend our “wages for what fails to satisfy?” as Isaiah says in the first reading? Do we settle for creation when the Creator Himself is the only One who fills our deepest longings? Do we search for just one more distraction trying to fill our empty hearts, all the while ignoring our closest Friend and greatest Ally? We exhaust ourselves seeking money, power, physical fitness, popularity, sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling – and the list goes on and on. Jesus shows us the folly of such an attitude; He can feed a hungry crowd with two fish and a few loaves with leftovers a plenty. But He desires to feed not just our bodies, but more importantly, our souls.

How? “Looking up to heaven, [Jesus] said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples.” We cannot miss the imagery! This “prefigures” or alludes so clearly to Holy Thursday, the Last Supper, the first Mass in all of history. In the Blessed Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist, Jesus doesn’t just feed a hungry crowd with ordinary bread – He gives us His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. He gives us Himself, through the Sacramental power of His Church, handed on from the Apostles, through bishops and priests, to us.

This year, from last October until this October, has been declared the Year of the Eucharist by our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. Have we been eager to celebrate this Year of the Eucharist by increasing our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament? Have we grown closer to our Lord Substantially present under the appearances of Bread and Wine? Or do we continue to approach the Body and Blood of our Lord as though it were ordinary food and drink? Has receiving Holy Communion become a habit, a routine?

The Eucharist is the source and summit of the entire Christian life. Everything we do as Catholics revolves around the Eucharist: our apostolate is inspired, strengthened, and directed to the Holy Eucharist; the Sacraments flow from the power of the Eucharist, and return to it. The Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist is not just a sign or a symbol reminding us of Jesus and His ministry. The Eucharist is Jesus Himself, bodily present among us, in time and space.

This Real Presence of Jesus Christ is utterly unique, distinct, and different from the various modes of God’s presence that occur in public prayer, the reading of the Word, and even of the infused Theological Virtues in our soul. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, at the words of the priest, “This is my Body” and “This is the cup of my Blood,” ordinary bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Although the accidents – the taste, touch, smell – remain, the substance has been changed. What is on the altar now is no longer the result of the baker’s oven or the vintner’s press; It is God Himself, dwelling in our midst, deserving of all our attention and devotion.

More wonderful yet is the tremendous reality of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which makes such transubstantiation possible! This Sacrifice is not distinct from the One Sacrifice offered by our Lord on Calvary those many centuries ago; it is the same action of the Trinity, distinguished only by time and space. Our Lord comes to us under the forms of bread and wine, not as a prisoner of history, but as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our very lives must be transformed by His Lordship: in the Mass, we are brought by our Head as members of His Body into His perfect and eternal worship of the Father, in Spirit and in Truth.

Therefore, not only do we simply “remember” the saving events of our Faith; we truly enter in to this mystery. The Mass “re-presents” for us the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord. The Consecrated Elements – no longer bread and wine but the Body and Blood of Jesus – retain His Real Presence, even after Mass is concluded. We reserve the Eucharist in the Tabernacle because Jesus is Really, Truly, and Substantially present, offering us the opportunity to place every moment of our lives at His service. In Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we follow Jesus with the hungry crowds into the desert, as it were, taking our illnesses to Him, and being cured and fed, not with mere bread, but with God Himself.

Prepare yourselves to receive our Lord in Holy Communion: what you receive is not bread and wine! Meditate on the mystery of the Real Presence; examine your conscience and come first to the Sacrament of Penance, grateful to receive our Lord with a heart purified of sin. Strive to see with the eyes of faith that which your senses cannot comprehend. Spend time before our Lord in the tabernacle this Year of the Eucharist; remain for a few minutes after Mass in silent adoration of the Lord Jesus, present in your body and soul. Come and visit Jesus in the tabernacle throughout the week, casting all your cares upon Him who loves us more deeply than we can know.

Let us then meditate briefly together on St. Thomas Aquinas’ beautiful hymn in honor of the Blessed Sacrament Adoro te devote, translated by Gerard Manly Hopkins:

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? That shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

"Faith Seeking Understanding" for July 31, 2005, SJN Bulletin

I would like to thank everyone here at St. John Neumann for welcoming me back as your new Associate Pastor with such kindness and warmth. I look forward to getting to know each of you better, so please stop by the office to visit. One family has already invited me to offer a House Blessing at their home; just call or ask me after Mass and we can schedule a time.

Today is the Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the great 16th Century founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). We don’t celebrate saints’ memorials in the Sunday Liturgy, but we certainly can remember St. Ignatius in our other prayers today and in our family conversations. An excellent novel about his life is The Golden Thread, by Louis de Wohl. Look up the life of St. Ignatius and other saints at

On August 4th we celebrate the Memorial of St. John Mary Vianney (the Curé of Ars), patron saint of parish priests. St. John Vianney is one of the “incorrupt” saints of the Church. The book The Curé of Ars by Abbé Trochu (available from tells the beautiful story of his deeply moving spiritual life. Through his intercession, let us pray that many more holy priests will grace the Church here in Detroit.

This coming Saturday (August 6th) is the Feast of the Transfiguration, reminding us of our Lord’s divinity and the glory that awaits us in heaven. We should read the Gospel accounts of this event from our Lord’s life (Mt 17:1-9; Mk 9:2-10; Lk 9:28-36) and pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary to remember this great feast.

Many excellent resources exist to help us daily practice the Faith, reminding us of the saints’ feast days, days of penance, and the teachings of the Church. One of the easiest to use is Catholic Radio: WDEO, AM 990. Just turn the dial!

God bless you all, and please pray for priests!

Friday, July 29, 2005

More on NFP

NFP Awareness Week continues. I have enjoyed several discussions about contraception and NFP this week, some in response to my homily from a couple weeks ago. Another article here offers a great perspective from Fr. Thomas Duffner. His closing paragraph is interesting: "So, if your otherwise wonderful priest decides to talk about these matters, don’t assume he slipped a cog. He’s spending all his political capital because he knows that on this issue turns the health of your marriage, the strength of the parish and the survival of the Christian culture."
I've never met Fr. Duffner, but his thoughts echo mine exactly. We must continue to fight for strong marriages and strong families. If marriages are founded upon the Truth who is Jesus Christ, we can't go wrong.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Breakfast with the Bishop

I will be speaking at Holy Trinity Apostolate's "Breakfast with the Bishop" on Saturday, August 20, 2005, at the Sterling Inn Banquet and Conference Center.

The Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan, is the featured guest. He will speak on Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis." My topic will cover the legacy of Pope John Paul II as regards Evangelism and Vocations.

For more information call or email Barbara Middleton at or (586) 781-6051. Registration is $23 per person ($12 student/seminarian).

Listen for me on WDEO (990 AM) on Teresa Tomeo's morning show on Thursday, July 28, at 8:30 am.

NFP Awareness Week

This week (July 24 - 31) is NFP Awareness Week. Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a morally acceptable method to naturally determine fertility and space the birth of children. This week was chosen because of the annivarsary of the publication of Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae: July 25, 1968.

Humanae Vitae reiterated the Catholic Church's constitent teaching that contraception is a moral evil, and is always and everywhere wrong. Contraception separates the procreative meaning from the unitive meaning in marriage, ultimately even vitiating the unity between the spouses because it speaks a lie. At the very moment the language of the conjugal act seems to say: "I am yours, forever, without restriction," the language of contraception says, "I withhold my fertility." As Dr. Janet Smith has often remarked, there is nothing so profound in saying: "I want to have sex with you." Saying, "I want to raise a family with you," on the other hand, says everything.

For more information about NFP, please visit the Couple to Couple League. They use the Sympto-Thermal method of NFP. Another excellent resource using the Creighton University model is the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals. Also, information from the USCCB is helpful. Also, check out NFP Outreach and One More Soul.

Is YOUR doctor NFP-Only? Search for a new pro-life OB/GYN here.

Mass Schedule

In response to a suggestion from a reader, my current Mass schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, July 27: 9:00 am
Friday, July 29: 9:00 am
Saturday, July 30: 8:00 am
Sunday, July 31: 8:30 am; 12:30 pm; 7:00 pm
Monday, August 1: 9:00 am
Tuesday, August 2: 9:00 am
Friday, August 5: 9:00 am
Saturday, August 6 (Feast of the Transfiguration): 8:00 am
Sunday, August 7: 10:30 am; 7:00 pm (our Permanent Deacon is preaching)

May this help you to increase your Sacramental participation.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Parish Notes

I will be hearing Confessions every weekday morning (except Thursday) before the 9:00 am Mass, beginning at 8:00 am. Please look for me in the Confessional near the statue of our Blessed Mother. The regular schedule of Confession at 3:30 pm on Saturdays remains unchanged.

Homily for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A (July 17, 2005)

Sixteenth Sunday Ordinary Time – Year A

Our Gospel reading from today continues the selection we had from St. Matthew’s gospel last week. And just like last week, our Lord teaches the people in parables, but unravels some of the mystery of the parable for the Apostles.

Our Lord shares with us this morning three parables, but only explains one. And yet even in the parable that He DOES explain, we can miss His meaning, unless we have “ears to hear”. Let’s examine the meaning of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, or the Weeds and the Wheat.

This morning’s parable doesn’t ask us to pull up the weeds, much as we do with our gardens at home. Rather, the weeds that Jesus speaks about are a particular kind of weed that infests grain crops: wheat, oats, and barley. Jesus uses the Greek word for the grass known as “darnel”. Darnel appears soon after the good grain sprouts, but it so mimics the shape and growth of the good seed that it is nearly impossible – even for experts – to distinguish the two. In fact, the roots of the darnel plant intertwine with the roots of the good grain, making it impossible to weed out the bad seeds. Fortunately, the good grain has deeper roots and is able to still grow, even when the darnel is in the field.

Not until the crops are ready for harvest does the darnel become evident; the fruit of wheat, oats, or barley, is clear. Large golden heads of grain, visible and abundant, grace the tops of the shafts of the good seed. But on plants appearing nearly identical, the darnel produces a small, black seed – and no fruit at all. And in fact, the seed itself, when ground into flour, is poisonous: it causes dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, and in some cases, even death.

The message from our Lord is clear: the devil exists; he is real. He is bent on our destruction. Under the cover of darkness, while we are asleep, he sows his poisonous seed among the earth. This sleep, of course, is not physical sleep – it is the moral sleep of indifference, of pride, of compromise with the world. In short, is the sleep of sin, of failing to “watch and pray” as our Lord admonishes.

“An enemy has done this.” The enemy of our souls desires to trick us with his look-alike plant, hoping that we won’t discover it. What are the weeds that our culture is spreading?

The first, and most fundamental weed is RELATAVISM. Relativism looks attractive, looks pleasant, and looks a lot like what Christ teaches. Let’s all get along; don’t judge anyone; be “nice”. But it isn’t – it’s deceptive. Relativism says “truth” does not exist; I can have my truth, and you can have your truth. Truth is what I make it to be: no one has a corner on the truth. Anyone would recognize that this is false when we talk about physics, geometry, or other hard-sciences. Certainly, the mathematician knows the independent truth of the Pythagorean Theorem; gravity is always –32 ft/sec2. But we accept this lie so quickly when it comes to theology, and in particular, moral theology. The truth is quite different: Jesus Christ is the way, the TRUTH, and the life. His life teaches us everything about our own lives. His teachings enlighten our lives, and give us the freedom to REALLY love God and neighbor.

And yet we so often reject His teachings that are handed down through the Church. Our hearts become hardened to the difficult truths of the gospel, and we accept the darnel instead of the wheat. The result:

“The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

My brothers and sisters, this is not a small matter. Eternity is at stake!

Our culture has accepted relativism. One of the “evil seeds” that this weed has spread is the evil of contraception. Contraception damages our families by promoting a culture that sees fertility as a disease, and children to be avoided. It makes sex outside of marriage the norm, and closes the meaning of the marital act to God. Contraception is so widespread in our culture that it appears to be a great good: a technological advancement that allows greater control over our bodies.

In reality, it is a poisonous seed that fuels a culture of materialism and self-centeredness. The intimate communion between a husband and a wife, shared in the marital embrace, is designed by God to be life-giving and a complete communion of persons. God inscribes the meaning of sexuality on our hearts; the truth is that husband and wife are one flesh, an image of Christ and His Church. Though perhaps not immediately obvious to us, much like the darnel of the parable, contraception transforms the beautiful and sacred moment of total and complete self-giving in marriage into a selfish act that bears no fruit.

The distinguishing mark of the wheat, the mustard seed, and the yeast in this morning’s parables are that they bear fruit. The fruit is good and plentiful; God blesses the kingdom with growth in the truth. God shows His greatest blessing in the creation of a new human person; the husband and wife are “partners” with God in co-creating this new life. Contraception removes God from the equation and closes the couple even to each other.

God has, however, in His providence and wisdom also designed a way to interpret the signs of fertility to make use of period abstinence to space the birth of children. This is known as Natural Family Planning; not only is the practice morally acceptable, it is extremely effective. As an added benefit, studies indicate that couples who practice NFP are happier and have a much, much lower divorce rate as well. Chastity is an essential virtue, not just for the unmarried, but for those who are married as well. It is a great gift, and a blessing from God – true freedom in the Truth of the Gospel.

God is calling us to recognize the weeds of sin that destroy our spiritual lives. What happens if we have accepted contraception – or other sins – as “facts of life”? Our First Reading reminds us that “you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.” We have the great opportunity and gift to repent of these sins and begin a new life in conformity with the truth. By rushing to the Sacrament of Penance – whether for contraception, or any other sin in our life – we receive God’s forgiveness and are reconciled with the Church. Grace is increased in our souls and we reap an abundant harvest, and in turn we will bear fruit that will last.

If you are struggling with this issue in your life, and would like more information about how to understand the Church’s teaching in this area, please call me during the week, or stop by the Offices to chat. Make use of the Sacrament of Penance, either on Saturday afternoons, or again, call at any time.

When we embrace the truth about our lives, repent of sin, and continually strive to live a life of virtue, we live in the grace of Christ, preparing already for the gift of eternal life, Where “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

May we always be ready to recognize and reject the weeds of the devil, happy to choose the truth of God’s word, and to bear fruit into eternity.

In the beginning...

The written word is a tremendously powerful tool to express, persuade, and inform. The spoken word, likewise, can be used in the same way. As means to an end, therefore, the spoken and written word exist prior to moral considerations: they may be used to further good or evil.

The Word, however -- the eternal Logos, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ -- He is ultimately the purpose for the existence of these other words, spoken or written, multiplied throughout human history. May the words used here always point to the Word, direct our thoughts and minds to His service, and seek the building up of the Kingdom of Heaven.

As a Catholic priest, currently assigned to St. John Neumann parish in Canton, Michigan, for the Archdiocese of Detroit, I will post my homilies, my weekly bulletin columns, and other items that seem fitting.

Please pray for priests.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

"Faith Seeking Understanding" for July 23-24

“Faith Seeking Understanding”

While thinking about a title for my weekly column, I stumbled upon “Faith Seeking Understanding.” St. Anselm coined this phrase (fides quærens intellectum) in the 11th century to describe theology: reason exploring the truths of Revelation. Beginning with the unchanging truths of the Faith, as revealed by Christ and taught by His Church, theological study allows us to apply the Truth to our lives and helps us pursue holiness by conforming to God’s Will.

This year, we have been celebrating the Year of the Eucharist. The Blessed Sacrament is the single greatest support we have in seeking understanding, because It is the Source and Goal of our Faith. Jesus Christ, substantially present in the Eucharist, waits for us in the tabernacle. Developing regular prayer time is important, but prayer is even more effective and fruitful when we spend it before the Real Presence of our Lord.

As I begin my assignment here at St. John Neumann, I look forward to continuing my own journey of Faith, particularly in the worship of the Blessed Sacrament in this Holy Year of the Eucharist. May God bless you all!