Homily Podcast

Just a quick note for those who aren’t familiar with my website, I’ve been posting audio recordings of my Sunday and Holy Day homilies for a couple years now. You can either listen to those homilies via my website on the “Home” tab, or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, Stitcher or by copying the RSS link into other podcast software (including Google Play Music when they finally release the capability).

Chromecast first impressions

I admit it: I broke down and got a Chromecast. Spotify had a deal where you sign up for Premium for 3 months at $30 and get a free Chromecast. For me, this worked out to getting a Chromecast for $5 off with 3 free months of Spotify Premium.

This is not my first “smart TV” device I’ve used. I’ve used Roku for several years, and have both a first generation Roku and a Roku 3 that I greatly enjoy. The Roku runs apps, like a smartphone or tablet, to stream the video or audio, and you interact with Roku via remote control.

When the Chromecast first came out, I was skeptical due to one key difference between Chromecast and other similar devices. The Chromecast also runs apps to stream the video and audio. In contrast to the Roku, however, you don’t use a remote control to interact with the Chromecast. Instead, you use Chromecast-aware apps on a smartphone or tablet, and tap a “cast” button on the app to tell the Chromecast what to stream.

For the first year or so, there weren’t a lot of Chromecast-aware apps. YouTube could use it, of course, and several other apps came out at launch, but most streaming apps that I use on Roku didn’t understand how to use Chromecast. It seemed like yet another pointless device from Google.

Flash forward 2 ½ years, and the picture has changed. There are a great number of apps that support Chromecast, both on iOS and Android. The usual suspects are here: Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora to name 3. Other apps have added the capability: MLB at Bat (for those of us who are baseball junkies and subscribe to MLB.TV), Twitch (video game play streaming), major networks like ABC or HBO, and much more.

The lack of remote on Chromecast is actually an advantage instead of a detriment. On Roku, searching for something to watch on Netflix involves the hunt-and-peck on a virtual keyboard using the remote. There is the Roku app for phones and tablets, but I haven’t had a lot of luck with it. The same process on Chromecast involves using the tablet or phone interface on the particular app, which is much more convenient and faster, then hitting “cast”.

I’m actually enjoying the Chromecast over Roku, to my surprise. I installed it on a secondary TV, but I might be switching the Roku 3 to this TV and put the Chromecast on my living room TV – if I don’t buy a second Chromecast. They are only $35 each, after all, which is a huge advantage Chromecast has over Roku. Depending on the model, Roku run from $40 to $130.

Annual Lenten Reminder

I try to do this every year: when considering your Lenten fast (A.K.A. what you’re giving up), please take into account how depriving yourself of that good will affect your relationship with others. In other words, don’t give up coffee if you are this guy:

Same goes with smokers, those addicted to chocolate, and so on. Find another Lenten fast that won’t make you unbearable to be around. After all, the fast is for your penance, and not for everyone else. Thank you.

Spiritual Bouquet for the Holy Father

Father Zuhlsdorf at What Does the Prayer Really Say? has proposed a spiritual bouquet for our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. If you’ve never heard of a spiritual bouquet, it’s a collection of prayers offered by a group of people in intercession for someone else. This often takes the form of so many Rosaries, so many Masses offered, and the like. Please consider adding your prayers to this spiritual bouquet, and add your “vote” on Fr. Z’s post: WDTPRS Spiritual Bouquet for Pope Benedict for St. Joseph’s Day.

To put things in perspective

If it’s a choice between what you think/feel/believe and the teachings of the Church, I’m going with the Church. Just remember that the Church existed long before you did, and has the Holy Spirit protecting and guiding Her teachings from the first moment of Her existence. Likewise, the Church will exist long after you’re gone, unless Christ returns during your lifetime, and will still have the Holy Spirit protecting Her teachings.

Homily for Christmas Midnight Mass

Because of the close proximity of Christmas with Sunday this year, I’ve written one homily for Christmas and made two versions to link them with the particular readings: Midnight Mass and Mass during the Day. Both will be posted separately.
The days of Advent are over.  For 4 weeks, we waited in joyful anticipation for the celebration of Our Lord’s birth.  Now, we gather at Midnight to join the angels in proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  We join together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, who frees us from the darkness of sin and brings us the joy promised by God the Father.

While it’s very much dark outside, we come together in this beautifully lit and decorated church with all the Christmas lights and candles to remember not the darkness of sin, but the light of Christ shining throughout the world.  This is the light of the Lord’s glory that came upon the shepherds sitting in the dark of night with their sheep.  This is the light promised by the prophet Isaiah to “the people who walked in darkness”.  This is the light that we recall at the Easter Vigil, and is symbolized by the Easter candle shining in the darkened church.

This light did not come into the world with a grand show, but rather under humble, simple means.  This King of Kings and Lord of Lords came into the world as a child born to humble parents, not great rulers.  His coming was announced to shepherds in a field, not to noblemen and women in mighty palaces.  For the great majority of people alive at the time of Our Lord’s birth, it went completely unnoticed.

Yet, His coming was truly a glorious event worthy of great rejoicing.  As St. Paul reminds us, we celebrate tonight “as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own.”  We remember the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ because He came into the world to free us from the darkness of sin.  Just as lighting a single candle can break the darkness of night, the coming of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, breaks the darkness of sin in our lives.  When we look at the beautiful Christmas lights that we use to decorate as we celebrate this special and blessed season, we should always remember that Jesus, the Light of the World, shines through the darkness of sin in our lives the way those lights shine through the darkness of night.

Tonight, the Advent season is over, and we begin the celebration of the Christmas season.  Note that we are just now beginning the Christmas season, not ending it.  May we spend this season joyfully praising Jesus Christ, the Light of the World who came into the world to save us.