One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

April 01, 2006

For the Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 12:20-33

Today our Lord gives us a strong, strange and violent lesson.
Like grains of wheat, we are to bring forth much fruit by falling and dying.
If I love my life in this world, I lose it.
If I hate my life in this world, I PRESERVE IT for eternal life.
Christ does not tell us to DESTROY our life in this world.
Rather, folded into his words today is the truth that we may preserve our life in this world if we love ETERNAL life more than our merely worldly life.
The truth is that our life in this world is folded into eternal life, and that our eternal life is folded into our life in this world.
He says today, “Whoever hates his life in this world will preserve IT for eternal life.”
We are to hate not life itself.
Rather, we are to hate a life that ignores eternity.
At present, in this world, our lives are in disorder.
Our human nature is in disorder, out of harmony with itself.
We each have a body, a reasoning mind, free will and feelings.
These— body, mind, will, feeling— don’t always line up with each other, and never perfectly nor permanently.
That failure— that lack of order, harmony, peace— that lack is something we naturally and rightfully HATE.
God did not make us that way, and he too hates it.
Human sin turned it that way.
In Christ— Truly God and Truly Man— in Christ we are justified, rectified, straightened out, put in order and harmony— body, mind, will, emotion.
Yet the order and harmony will not fully wake up until our own resurrection— if— in this world— if we have hated sin and the disordered results of sin.
Christ by word and by lifelong example shows us how to hate sin and the results of sin— how to live and die in this world so that we gain and fulfill eternal life.
Christ himself, handed himself over for the glory of the Father and for the true, eternal good of humanity.
Glory to the Father and Goodness for Humanity!
Christ the Son of the Father laid down his life and gave his blood that we— in body, mind, will and feeling— that we might have life in fullness and for ever.
Now in his Eucharist, he hands over to us his body and blood to be the food and drink that are the beginning of our eternal life.

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See below for “The Mass for the Scrutiny of the Catechumens on the Fifth Sunday of Lent”.

That God Be Glorified in All

The Mass for the Scrutiny of the Catechumens on the Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 11:1-45

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, when we shall witness in the Gospel the last days leading up to the death and burial of Christ.
Today in the Gospel, we are present at the death and burial of a man named Lazarus.
We witness today the deep and truly human feelings of Jesus who weeps like any man at the tomb of his friend Lazarus.
At the same time the mystery of Jesus who is eternal God is also present.
Jesus, a true man who mourns a friend’s death, is also eternal God who takes charge, shouts at a dead man, and orders him to come back to life.
We are now completing the days of our Lenten penances, and we approach the yearly festival of Christ handing himself over to death so that our sins may be forgiven.
Today in the Gospel, we can see how to open ourselves up to Christ— not only for our own good, but also for the good of others.
Most of the Lord’s miracles involved strangers.
Today, however, Lazarus whom Jesus raises from the dead is not a stranger, but an intimate friend of Jesus.
Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, as friends of the Lord, have already to some degree let down their defenses before the Lord.
We know there is mutual vulnerability and affection between them and Christ.
When the Lord arrives at the tomb of Lazarus and sees Martha and Mary brokenhearted there, he himself begins to weep.
The Lord himself has let down his defenses.
When someone dies, all his defenses are torn down, and his vulnerability in EVERY dimension— PHYSICAL, SOCIAL and SPIRITUAL—is completely and definitively exposed.
He can no longer act for himself.
In such a case, all the initiatives are in God’s hands.
So, today the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, calling himself the Resurrection and the Life, carries out an act of divine authority and power.
He orders the people to open the tomb, and he shouts at the dead man.

We ourselves may have once been SPIRITUALLY dead.
Any of us, through sin— “mortal sin”— any one of us could die spiritually.
Perhaps each of us may know someone who at this very moment may be spiritually dead.
In one sense the spiritually dead are the opposite of the physically dead.
The spiritually dead have raised raised a wall of defense between themselves and other persons, God in particular.
The physically dead have lost all their defenses.
Their vulnerability is raw and total.
However, in both cases, the spiritually dead and the physically dead cannot act for themselves.
They need the prayers— AND THE GRIEF AND PENANCES— of others who ask God to intervene with authority and power.
Martha and Mary are grieving, vulnerable and exposed.
The Lord sees them mourning at the tomb of their brother.
They had begged the Lord to come earlier.
Now we see something wonderful.
The Gospel now testifies twice that Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
“Jesus wept.”
He himself let down his defenses and exposed his vulnerability.
The Lord Jesus can be moved.
We can do penance for others, entrusting them to the authority, power and mercy of the Lord.
As we do penance for others— or for ourselves— we can take courage from the words the Lord spoke to Martha and Mary as they cried for their brother.
I am the resurrection and the life:
whoever believes in me,
even if he dies,
will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?

Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?

Penance can be a sign and an instrument of our faith that Jesus is our resurrection and our eternal life.
Penance is a sign and instrument of our faith that Jesus will raise us up from the dead when he returns to make heaven and earth new again.
As a sign and an instrument, penance is also a real sacrament.
The sacrament of penance opens the tombs of our hearts for God, and invites him to shout at us with authority and power, “Come out!”
Our own sins are reason enough for penance; but there is more to penance than that.
Penance peels open the eyes of our hearts and minds, preparing them to see the glory of God, as he promises today:
Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?

In the Eucharist today as always, we receive Jesus who has a deep human heart, and who wept in sorrow because his friend had died.
In the Eucharist we also receive eternal God who shouts at us to leave behind the stinking cave of sin.
By the Eucharist, God will one day order us to rise from the dead so that we may have his gift of eternal life in our own flesh and blood.
With our naked eyes, we shall God in glory face to face.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 31, 2006

For Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 7:40-53

In two weeks we shall be commemorating the holy days of our Lord’s suffering, death, burial and resurrection.
This week in the Gospel, we have been witnessing the controversy that surrounded our Lord.
We witness the opposition that built up against him, going so far as plans to kill him.
Today in the Gospel is the final day of the weeklong Jewish feast of “huts” or “tents.”
The feast recalls that the Hebrews lived forty years in tents in the desert after escaping Egypt, and that God kept them alive in the desert by making water come out of a rock.
Today— the grand finale of the feast— Jesus has already stood up in public and shouted:
If any one thirst,
let him come to ME and drink.
He who believes in ME,
as the scripture has said,
“Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”

Many of the people believe him to be a prophet and the Messiah.
Most of the public authorities do not.
You and I take a public stand every Sunday in reciting the Creed, whereby we profess our faith that Jesus is indeed LORD, the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God.
The catechumens prepare by the observance of Lent to join us at Easter in professing the faith.
We acknowledge baptism into the death and resurrection of the Anointed One, the Son of God.
We acknowledge prophetic, priestly, royal anointing by the Spirit through the death and resurrection of the Son of God
We acknowledge, we eat and we drink the dead and risen Son of God.
Good Friday and Easter are always here for us in the Eucharist.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 30, 2006

For Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 7:1-2,10,25-30

Today in the Gospel, Jesus implicitly claims in public to have been sent by the True God.
He states his claim in a way that accuses the religious authorities.

The ONE who sent ME is TRUE
YOU do NOT know him
I know him
because I come from him
and HE sent ME

The religious leaders understood that the home of Jesus was Nazareth, and that he came from an ordinary household.
This was evidence for them that he could not be the Messiah.
Worst of all, this Nazarene accused THEM of not knowing the True God.
Christ was put to death for the offensive claims he made both about himself and against the religious authorities.
Yet, even his death is in God’s plan.
In the Gospel today, there is a sign of this deliberate plan in the words that speak of Jesus’ “hour” that “had not yet come”.
Because that “hour had not yet come”, the plotting authorities could not touch him.
When God eventually let that hour come, Jesus underwent death by crucifixion on a Friday.
Then, before three evenings had passed, he rose from the dead in fulfillment of the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
This profession of faith would have brought us death from the same authorities that plotted the death of Jesus.
The whole of Lent exists for that very profession of faith.
Good Friday of the Lord’s death, Holy Saturday of his rest in the tomb and Easter Sunday of his resurrection are just two weeks away.
Nevertheless, in a few moments we will have all the saving power and truth of those three days and more in the Eucharistic Flesh and Blood of Christ.
Having come to this altar at this hour for the Eucharist is already a profession of faith that Jesus is the Lord, the Anointed Prophet, Priest and King.
He is the Son of God.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 29, 2006

For Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 5:31-47
Exodus 32:7-14

At the foot of Mount Sinai, the Lord God’s own people turned away from him to worship gold bullion they had shaped into a bull.
Today in the Gospel of John, we see that the leaders of the people have turned away from Christ the Lord.
On Sinai, God spoke of his blazing wrath as he accused the people of rejecting their own glory, their own salvation, their own God— the true and only God.
Moses, the mediator, then interceded for the people before the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
In the Gospel, however, Christ tells us that now Moses himself will be the accuser against those who reject Christ whom the Father has sent.
God had sent Moses, too, as his messenger and representative to the people of Israel.
Moses did double, two-way service, because he was also the people’s advocate before the Lord.
Moses mediated, that is, he stood in the middle between God and the people.
Moses, however, was merely a man.
Christ, on the other hand, is both truly God and truly man— a literal, real, actual, substantial, perfect mediator between the human and the divine.
Moses has now stepped aside from his mediating role.
It is now Christ who intercedes for us before the heavenly Father.
Christ is Intercession— in PERSON, FLESH and BLOOD.
Today is Thursday.
Two weeks from today, we will commemorate that most holy of Thursdays on which Christ, who is Intercession in person, flesh and blood, prayed to the Father for us in these words: FOR THEIR SAKE I CONSECRATE MYSELF, THAT THEY ALSO MAY BE CONSECRATED IN TRUTH.
Christ wants and means to be our intercession before the Father.
We need intercession because of sin.
Before the first sin, in Paradise, we enjoyed God face-to-face, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart.
After the first sin of our race, God did not wipe us out.
He took away Paradise, telling us, however, that eventually a member of our own race, a mediator, would crush at the head both the deadly liar and the deadly lie that led us into sin.
Against the FALSEHOOD of Satan and the FALSEHOOD of our sins, Christ our representative consecrates us in the TRUTH by consecrating himself— by offering himself up to the Father in our name.
After the falsehood of original sin, we lost Paradise and began to able to die, but God did not wipe us out.
However, later at Sinai, God was going to wipe out his chosen people for their sin.
“But Moses, the man he had chosen, stood in the breach before him, to turn back his anger from destruction.” [Ps. 105:23]
If it had not been for the goodness of Moses the “go-between,” the MEDIATOR, the people of God would have died— not just banished, but wiped out.
Now in Christ, we have something and someone greater than Moses.
Christ does not merely stand between God and humanity.
Christ IS God, and at the same time he IS humanity.
On behalf of God, and as God, Christ is the sign of God’s freedom, authority and power over human existence.
On behalf of humanity, Christ is also the sign and the real beginning of our own human access to God’s own life that God himself freely offers to us.
Christ is God who has come into the human race.
At the same time, Christ is the human race already returned to God.
In Christ, we have more than Adam and Eve ever knew or enjoyed.
Through Christ, we have a greater freedom than the Hebrews who escaped Egypt.
Yet, just like Adam, Eve and the Hebrews, we are not the definers or makers of that freedom.
God remains God, and we, though we are God’s children and friends, we remain his creations.
Again, on that holiest of Thursdays, Christ said:

You are my friends if you do what I command you….
You did not choose me,
but I chose you….

So, we, too, are a chosen people.
Like the original chosen people, we, too, have a mediator— but one infinitely greater than Moses at Sinai.
We greet Christ our mediator— both our brother and our GOD.
Even now he eagerly comes to meet us at the altar, where he consecrates himself— sets himself apart— both for the Father and for us.
As at the Last Supper and on the Cross, he consecrates himself in person, in divinity and humanity, in flesh and blood.
He consecrates himself in the truth that we are for God and God is for us.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 28, 2006

For Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 5:17-30
Isaiah 49:8-15

Today through the voice of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord tenderly promises salvation to all who hope in him.
For those who are undergoing baptismal preparations during Lent, the Lord through his ancient prophet promises and foreshadows salvation through baptism and the Eucharist.

“Thus says the Lord:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on a day of salvation I help you.
Come out of the darkness and show yourselves!
Along the ways I shall give you food.
You shall not hunger or thirst.
I guide you beside springs of water.”

To all of us who are sinners, whether already baptized or not— the Lord tells us in the same prophecy:

“You said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.’
But I, the Lord, say to you,
‘Can a mother forget her infant?
Can she be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.’”

Finally in the Gospel, Christ the Lord, the Son of God in person promises us the same tender mercy and salvation.

“Just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever hears my word
and believes in the One who sent me
has eternal life
and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.”

For all who repent from sin, for all who pass from unbelief into faith, for all who receive baptism, there is the same promise: the passage from darkness into light; the passage from death into the inheritance of life and salvation.
Today is the third Wednesday before Easter.
The Mass of this third Wednesday before Easter used to be a special day for the baptismal candidates, the catechumens, in the city of Rome.
In Rome, from about the year of our Lord 600 until the year 1000, the catechumens were brought to church on this Wednesday.
They celebrated the same readings we are still using today.
The Mass on this Wednesday included ceremonies for the catechumens as a part of their preparations for baptism at Easter.
First, before the beginning of Mass, salt was placed on their tongues as a symbol of the saving wisdom they were to taste in the Gospel and Scripture, as well as a symbolic preservative to maintain them in that same saving wisdom.
Other special ceremonies followed the Gospel of the Mass.
First, the Creed was handed down to the catechumens.
One of the acolytes would lay his hands upon the head of the catechumen and recite the Creed line by line with the catechumen repeating each line after him.
Then the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, was handed down— also line by line.
Finally, the Gospel book was brought forward and handed over for the catechumens to kiss.
We, too, at this Mass today, are blessed to taste the salt of wisdom and salvation, handed down in the tradition of the Church: the tradition that is faith itself, the Lord’s own Prayer, his Gospel and his Blessed Eucharist.
May what we receive today preserve us forever in holiness, wisdom and salvation.
For our part, when we say, “Amen,” to the Body and Blood of Christ, we are agreeing to hand ourselves over unto holiness, wisdom and salvation.

That God Be Glorified in All

For Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 5:1-3,5-16
Ezekiel 47:1-9,12

Today we have a prophecy of Ezekiel in which a river flows out of one side of the Jerusalem temple.
The river is a miraculous cause of endless food and drink, life and healing.
For centuries, the Church has sung this prophecy as a chant to accompany the sprinkling of holy water during Easter as a sign of the renewal of Baptism.
In the Gospel today, we see in Jerusalem a miraculous pool of water that sometimes heals the sick.
However, today in the Gospel, healing comes through the words of Christ himself, not through water.
Christ tells a sick man:

Rise, take up your mat and walk.
…. Look, you are well;
do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.

Although he healed the man’s body with words only, Christ would later let us see healing and life come from his body.
On the day Christ rose from the dead, he went to his apostles, and from his body he breathed out the Holy Spirit to them, saying:

Receive the Holy Spirit.
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven

Out of the risen Body of Christ— out of the real Body and Blood of the risen Christ— the Father in heaven pours out his Holy Spirit upon the world, forgiving sins, bringing health, salvation and eternal life to the disciples of Christ, raising them as his sons and daughters.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 27, 2006

For Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 4:43-54

Today in the Gospel, the Galileans now have the “man of miracles” among them.
They welcome him, and they have expectations.
The Lord also has expectations: he expects them to believe in him.
We see this when the official asks the Lord in the town of Cana to go and heal his dying son in the town of Capernaum.
The Lord answers with an accusation.

“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”

The official meets the Lord’s accusation with a simple, moving plea that is itself a wondrous sign: “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
With that cry, this aggrieved father shows that he really has faith, and is not looking for a miracle show.
He is simply begging for the life of his child.
The Lord now turns, “You may go; your son will live.”
Hearing this, the man simply believes and calmly goes his way.
It is only about one in the afternoon [“the seventh hour”], but he does not even hurry straight home to Capernaum, eighteen miles away, for we see that he does not receive the confirmation of his son’s healing until the NEXT day, when his servants find him and tell him his son is well.
When the official has received this message from his servants, the Gospel tells us one more time of his being a believer— “he and his whole household came to believe.”
Both the Lord and the official have their expectations satisfied today: the Lord’s expectation of faith, and the official’s expectation of healing and life for his son.
There is salvation and life in the Body and Blood of our Lord.
Through the sacrament of his Body and Blood, we do not have to go to Cana in Galilee in order to welcome him.
Here at this very altar we can bring him our expectations, asking him for salvation and life.
However, he wants us to meet his expectations: our individual faith, as well as our loyal communion in the one, whole household of the Church.

That God Be Glorified in All

March 26, 2006

For the Fourth Sunday of Lent

John 3:14-21
2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23
Ephesians 2:4-10

Today in the Gospel we hear one of the most beloved affirmations of God caring for the human race.
God loves the world so much he gave his Son to die on the cross so that those who believe in the crucified Son of God may have eternal life.
What do we believe about the crucifixion of the Son of God?
The cross is condemnation that the Son of God carries away on his own back so that the world may live forever rather than die from the condemnation that sin itself always contains.
The Son of God and his cross are also a light showing whether our works, or chosen actions, are wicked or godly.
The Gospel today warns about our works, our chosen actions.
Are they wicked, or are they for God?
Today in the Chronicles as well, God reminds us that wicked works won a wicked punishment— the complete loss of God’s Sacred Temple, the Holy City and the Blessed Land of the Promise.
Strangely, God also tells us in the Chronicles that he set up Cyrus, a pagan king of a pagan land, to send the people of God back from exile, back to the Promised Land and Jerusalem, to build their lives sincerely around God again, living and working with full awareness that God was truly in their midst.
Today we also hear God teach us through the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians.
There, God shines light on some of the special corners inside a kind of house called “works”.
We are the works of God.
He created us.
Furthermore, he tells us that he has prepared good works in advance for us to live in as in a house.
The good works that we do are a home of grace that God has built in advance for us.
We are free to choose to live another way and elsewhere.
God alone gives the entire possibility and the entire ability to live inside the home of grace that he has built for us.
Yet he leaves entirely to us the choice of living there or not.
This home of grace that God offers to us is Christ himself.
Christ is the place, the event and the person in whom both God and the human race live.
Today and every Sunday in the Creed at Mass, we call Christ “True God” who “came down from heaven … and became man.”
Christ is both God and humanity living in one place, one event, one life, one person … one house.
Does the death of Christ on the cross represent a murderous divide between God and the human race, a collapsed marriage, a ruined home?
The death of Christ on the cross is the mountaintop event of God and humanity remaining faithful to each other even unto the sharing of death.
The resurrection of Christ from the dead is God and humanity united to each other in a fidelity that both conquers death and cannot ever die again.
THAT is the good work that God has prepared in advance as a home to share with us.
Cyrus, an ancient pagan king of Persia, served as a prophet— without knowing it— served as a mouthpiece of Christ who is God the Word promising of old that he would build a house in Jerusalem where God and humanity would together rise from death in an unbreakable communion.

“[My Father…] the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem….”

The resurrection is the house of grace that God has built in advance for us to live with him.
That house— all the grace of the resurrection and the immortal communion of God with humanity— is present in the Eucharist.
Call it a sacrament— a sign and instrument.
Call it a house— a house of grace.
Call it BETHLEHEM, which means in Hebrew, “House of Bread,” where God was born in communion with humanity.
Call it what it is, “The Body and Blood of Christ— Amen”.
Call it EMMANUEL, which means in Hebrew, “God-with-Us”— and God has fulfilled it by being “God-with-Us” ALL THE WAY to death, PAST death and into resurrection.
Every possibility and every ability to live in communion with God belongs to us because God lived, and gave, and forgave, and worked, and suffered, and died and rose to make it so.
He did it in Jerusalem, which means in Hebrew, “Vision of Peace.”
In the Eucharist, we eat, drink and see the peace in which God embraces the human race, making it entirely possible for us to embrace God by the lives we freely choose to live.
Each of us is a Holy City that God is building— a Holy City where God receives praise and enjoys with us the vision of our own peace, joy and freedom.
God has made it entirely possible.
It’s our turn entirely.


Mass for the Scrutiny of Catechumens on the Fourth Sunday of Lent
John 9:1-41
1 Samuel 16:1b,6-7,10-13a
Ephesians 5:8-14

Today we witnessed God sending the prophet Samuel to pour holy oil on the young man David.
This holy oil of anointing changed David, because “from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.”
The Spirit of God rushed upon David through a prophet pouring holy oil.
In his Gospel today, the Lord does something similar for a man born blind.
However, instead of anointing the blind man with holy oil, the Lord spits in the dirt, makes mud out of it, rubs it onto the blind man’s eyes and sends him to wash it off.
The blind man goes to wash, and TWO— not one— TWO changes happen for him.
First change: he begins to see for the first time in his life.
Second change: faith and worship.

Jesus goes looking for the man who can now see.
He finds him and asks,
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
The man with newborn eyes answers,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus says to him,
“You are seeing him, and the one speaking with you is he.”
The man says to Jesus,
“I do believe, Lord,”
and he throws himself down in worship at the feet of Jesus.

First change: a blind man begins to see.
Second change: he has faith in Jesus and he worships him.
The prophet Samuel anointed young David, changing him by pouring oil on him, and “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.”
We see Jesus anoint a blind man with muddy spit and send him to wash.
When the man receives his sight, meets Jesus, believes in him and worships him, we know that the Spirit has rushed upon that man.
Like this man with new sight, if we believe in Christ the Son of God and are here now truly to humble ourselves in the worship of Christ and his Father, then their Holy Spirit has also now rushed upon us.
Our believing in Christ comes from the Spirit at work within us.
Honest worship of Christ also comes from the Spirit at work within us.
When our daily lives reflect faith in Christ, and when our daily lives give honor to Christ, it is because we have cooperated with the work of the Spirit that God has poured out upon us.
We heard today what St. Paul wrote about our passing from the blindness of sin into a life of light, faith and worship as the children of God.

Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

The power of God’s Spirit takes us out of the darkness of sin, and gives us birth in the light that shines on us from the Father’s eyes.
The Spirit of God rushed upon David though holy oil that a prophet poured on David.
The Spirit brought a blind man to sight, faith and worship through spit and mud that Jesus made and washing that Jesus ordered.
In the sacraments of baptismal washing, confirming oil of anointing and the Eucharistic Food and Drink, Jesus the Son of God comes to us and touches us.
In these sacraments, the Spirit rushes and works on us.
In these sacraments, God the Father gives us new birth as his children
The signs that all this has taken place are very simple:
our faith in the Father and the Son and the Spirit;
our worship of the Father and the Son and the Spirit.
We must work so that our daily lives show that we believe in God and honor him.
However, when we fail to live out our faith, and when our actions dishonor God, we have another sacrament that renews our faith and turns us around to face the light of God who forgives his children.
Remember: when Jesus first began to preach, he said, “REPENT … and believe in the Gospel!”
He did not just say, “Believe in the Gospel!”
He said, “REPENT … and believe in the Gospel!”
Repentance is the door of faith.
Repentance is the doorway for the Spirit who brings and strengthens faith.
When we confess our sins in the sacrament of Penance, we are letting Jesus smear mud on our sins and send us the Spirit in which God bathes his children.
If Jesus can use even spit and mud to bring sight, faith, and the Spirit to a blind man, then he can use spit and mud— OR EVEN A PRIEST— to bring the Spirit and to forgive sins.
We see such a commission on the day Jesus rose from the dead, when he breathed the Spirit onto the apostles and said to them:

Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.

Brothers and sisters, we must always repent of sin.
We must do penance.
We must receive the sacraments.
In this way, renewal and strength increase our faith that the Son of God is with us, that the Spirit of God is upon us, and that God the Father has already made us his children.
Believe in the Gospel!
Give glory to God!
We are about to receive not just a prophet, not just holy oil, not spit or mud or cleansing water.
We are about to receive God the Son in his own Flesh and Blood that cause the Spirit of God our Father to rush upon us.
Let us repent.
Let us believe.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

That God Be Glorified in All