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.

December 09, 2006

For the Wedding Mass of Gerald Naus and Erin Sicard

John 15:9-16

Saturday, 9 December A.D. 2006

Here in this Gospel, we hear Christ tell us he wants his joy to be in us so that our joy might be complete.
He who is God wants our complete joy to be filled with his joy.
However, here he also says the road to complete joy is the obedient practice of a kind of love that could kill us, a kind of love that might not feel good or joyful, a kind of love that might bring some fear or sadness.
I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.

This is my commandment:
love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

On their wedding day, a man and woman might tell each other, “I would gladly die for you.”
Then, some weeks, months or years later, the message might change to, “Put your socks in the hamper, because I’m not your slave” … or, “Sweetheart, I’m not made of money.”
The zeal and nobility of the wedding day can give way to the banality of ordinary daily living.
However, things can also go in the opposite direction.
Gerald and Erin, you are both converts to the Catholic faith; and, Gerald— Gerald Augustinus— you bear the name of a great and famous convert of the ancient Church, St. Augustine.
When we feel our own limitations in obeying the commandments of Christ, the life of St. Augustine can inspire us with courage.
St. Augustine took a long time just to turn in God’s direction.
Not only that!
Even after he had turned to God, he dragged his feet, and asked God not to work too quickly on him.
Augustine’s road to conversion and holiness was long, slow and hesitating.
Later in his life, he wrote a letter to God, and expressed regret for having taken so long.
That letter to God has some of the most famous words of St. Augustine.
Late have I loved you,
O Beauty ever ancient,
ever new,
late have I loved you!

In his Gospel today, our Lord speaks of the self-sacrificing love that he commands us to have for him and for each other.
He is explaining and describing the shape that our lives will have if we do love him and are faithful to him.
He says we are to remain in him by keeping his commandments.
He has also set a standard for keeping his commandments.
He is the standard.
In his teaching and his personal example, he reveals that the greatest measure of love and fidelity is death.
His sacrifice of himself on the cross is “for us men and for our salvation.”
His self-sacrifice on the cross is also for the Father and the Father’s glory.
Christ’s death on the cross is his flesh and blood fulfillment of his own eternal, loving and obedient self-surrender to the Father.
On his cross, Jesus gives all to the Father.
In the resurrection, the Father gives all to Jesus.
So Christ Jesus tells us in his Gospel today, “I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.”
The death of the cross and the life of the resurrection— both happened in the Body and Blood of Christ.
Here, in the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ, God gives us his own death and resurrection.
Greater love has no one— and no other LIFE has Christ— than this: that he gives his life for those he loves.
As the Father loves me,
so I also love you.

I have told you this
so that my joy—
that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.

Gerald and Erin, whether or not each day in your marriage ends up looking like your joy-filled wedding day, or— on the other hand— like laundry day, or bill-paying day, the banal surrenders of daily living can be signs and instruments of the cross and the resurrection.
They are part of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
In a similar way, here in the Eucharist, a sliver of food and a sip of drink give us the cross and the resurrection in the Body and Blood of Christ.
Through the Eucharist, feed your marriage on Christ, not on your own limited human resources.
Through the Eucharist, lead your marriage to Christ, rather than to yourselves.
In that way, the foundation and the goal of your marriage can be infinitely stronger and greater than yourselves alone.

- - - -

Mr. Naus writes a well-known Catholic blog.

Click HERE for it.
That God Be Glorified in All

For Saturday of the First Week of Advent

Matthew 9:35-10:1,5a,6-8
Isaiah 30:19-21,23-26

Today in his Gospel, we hear briefly what Christ said and did in all the towns and villages, what he thought about the crowds, what he felt for them and what he sent his apostles to do for the crowds.
Four things: what he said, what he thought, what he felt, and what he did.
First, what did he say in all the towns and villages?
The Gospel simply reports he taught in the houses of worship and proclaimed the good news of the kingdom— or kingship— of God.
Perhaps he read to them the same prophecy of Isaiah that we heard today.
No more will you weep.
The Lord God, the Holy One, will be gracious to you when you cry out.
He will give you the food and drink you need.
With your own eyes you shall see your Teacher.
The Lord binds up the wounds of his people.

If he didn’t actually read the prophecy to them, we do know that he fulfilled it, for today the Gospel simply says he cured “every disease and illness.”
Then, what did he think about the crowds and feel for them?
We know that, too.
However, he probably still thinks and feels the same things about the entire human crowd today.
He thought— or he thinks even today— that the crowds are troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd, or— since he is announcing the kingdom of heaven— that the crowds are troubled and abandoned like people without a king who might lead them.
With that thought, his heart is moved with pity.
What does he do about it?
He calls his disciples; he calls us.
He tells us, “Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”
That’s odd.
Christ is our Master, our Lord.
Yet he tells us to ask the “master”— his Father— to send workers for his Father’s harvest.
Then, immediately acting on his Father’s authority, acting in his Father’s name, Christ himself sends his twelve disciples to the harvest.
He “gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.”
He sends us to bear the Father’s Holy Spirit within us, that we might drive out unholy spirits and make people whole.
Let us ask ourselves then, do we bring people inspiration to be holy— do we inspire them to wholeness and integrity?
Through his first twelve disciples, he tells us to “go to the lost sheep.”
We must ask ourselves, do lost sheep find the way because of us, or not?
The Shepherd tells us, “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
The Kingdom!
So … we have a king.
Do we live the mission he has given us?
Are we known to be servants of God?
Here today at his altar, our King fulfills for us the prophecy of Isaiah.
The Lord God, the Holy One, gracious to you when you cry out,
gives you the food you need,
the drink for which you thirst.
With your own eyes you shall see your Teacher.

May our lives make him known— for that is our mission.
May our lives make him known to the world— to the world that he pities.
May our lives make him known in all his glory, mercy, goodness and fatherhood!

That God Be Glorified in All

December 07, 2006

For Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Matthew 7:21,24-27

Today in his Gospel, the Lord tells us two things are necessary and inseparable.
First we are to hear his words, and then we are to put them into practice.
If we separate these two things, we end up with two dangerous stumbling blocks.
The first stumbling block is to hear the Lord’s words and do nothing.
When we stumble in this way we are easily swept away and lost.
If we hear the Lord’s words without responding in obedience to them, then we are effectively ignoring the truth and necessity of his words.
As a result, we empty our own words of truth, and we empty them of necessity, so that if we cry out, “Lord, Lord,” it is a useless UNtruth.
The second stumbling block is to do and act without first giving our attention, our minds and our hearts to the Lord in listening to his words.
If we act without hearing— and without praying so as to truly hear— we then act according to our own measure, and not according to God’s designs.
Christ is the Word, the Voice of God.
When we have not given the attention and energy of our mind and heart to God’s Voice, we cannot even honestly say, “Lord, Lord”— much less do that Lord’s will.
When we obey and do what we have heard from God in Christ, then we are building on rock— on the Rock that is Christ himself.
We become stones set in place upon Christ as our origin and foundation.
We are cemented to him and built up by the mortar of our own faith, obedience and love.
Such a house on such a foundation falls before nothing.
Christ himself has a foundation.
He has heard, listened, obeyed and acted.
He is founded and lives in the will of the Father.
He says and does nothing that he has not first heard and received from the Father.
He says and does nothing else except what he has heard and received from the Father.
He IS what he has heard and received from the Father.
Built on Christ, built in him, and built for him, we have a share, then, in his Father as well.
Here in the Eucharist, the Father with the power of the Spirit prepares for us an Anointed Bedrock and Living Mortar of love and obedience in the flesh and blood of his Son.
Here we are built out of Christ, and sunk ever more deeply in him, and raised ever higher upon him.
Here in the Eucharist, the foundation and the consummation of life beyond imagining, our salvation, our glory, and the fulfillment of our hope are already real, and already have their real presence.a

That God Be Glorified in All

December 06, 2006

For Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Matthew 15:29-37

The Lord set up these people.
He let four thousand men— not counting women and children— follow him three days into the desert and up a mountain, without enough food and carrying many sick and disabled.
On the mountain, he healed all the infirm.
However, the crowd had no food.
His disciples had a small supply: a few fish (small ones as the Gospel reports) and seven loaves of bread— not enough to fill a basket.
Yet, he quickly went into action as methodical as a ritual.
First: he commanded the whole crowd to sit.
Surely they watched carefully to see what he would do next.
Then, he took the food and offered thanks for it.
Third: he himself broke it into pieces, and had his disciples pass it out to the crowd.
Fourth: everyone ate, and was satisfied.
Finally: instead of leaving the leftovers with the crowd that would still have to travel three days out of the desert, he had the scraps gathered, filling seven baskets as a sign for all to see.
He supplied more than enough food for thousands.
The Lord meets human need with compassion, healing the sick and feeding the hungry.
Yet, meeting our need for bodily food and health is not enough for him.
After and on top of our satisfaction, he makes a display of superabundance: seven baskets of leftovers— a sign of the “too much” that God gives.
At this hour we are on the mountain of the Lord’s Gospel and Eucharist.
In these he meets us with the too much that is his very self.
In himself he offers more than we yet know how to desire and receive.
Yet by creating us and even more by redeeming us he breathes his own divine Spirit in us, making us capable of himself.
When he returns in glory, sent by the Father with his angels and saints to gather us into the baskets of heaven, we shall awaken fully ready and capable of the too much that he offers forever.
Let us hope in our salvation that has already begun.

That God Be Glorified in All

December 05, 2006

For Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Luke 10:21-24

Today Christ tells us he is the one in whom and from whom we can receive the full knowledge of God.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is
except the Father,
and who the Father is
except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.

Christ Jesus as Son of God and as a man— he has and is full knowledge of the Father.
How may we come to know and experience Christ fully, so that we come to know and experience God fully?
God takes the first step.
He chooses those to whom he reveals himself.
He chooses those who follow his own example in Christ.
God the eternal Son chose to lower or humble himself by becoming a man.
As such, he can be understood—or known— only by the humble, lowly, open-hearted, childlike ones whom he always seeks and chooses.
He came and still comes to reveal to us himself, his Father and their shared Spirit of union whenever we open our hearts and empty them for him, to receive him in childlike simplicity and humility.
Even after God has taken the first step in making himself known to us, and after we have responded, it is he who fulfills, consummates and forever renews himself in us.
Nonetheless, God’s perpetual initiative requires our perpetual readiness and response.
Through the flesh and blood of the Son we receive knowledge of the Father and union with him in the Spirit.
That is God’s initiative.
For our part, we must have faith and open hearts, lifted up to the Lord in simplicity, lowliness, sincerity and truth.
The apostle St. Paul wrote for the Corinthians [1 Cor. 5:7,8] that:
Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed—
in flesh and blood.
Therefore, let us celebrate
with the unleavened bread that is sincerity and truth.

That is our mission and our salvation.

That God Be Glorified in All

December 04, 2006

Matthew 8:5-11

For Monday of the First Week of Advent

The Lord in his Gospel today leaves us with his prophetic blessing:
I say to you,
many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven.

From east, west, north and south, you and I have come here to the banquet of the kingdom of heaven.
Baptism and faith have given us the privilege to eat at the banquet of the kingdom of heaven.
However, we still await the final coming of the kingdom of heaven in the return of Christ our Lord at the end of time.
In the meantime, through the sacraments, the world already gives way to the kingdom of heaven and the return of Christ.
In the sacrament of baptism, we sinners die to Adam our father in sin, and we are born in Christ as sons and daughters of God.
In the Eucharist, the world of bread and wine comes to a real end, so that where once were bread and wine are now the real body and real blood of Christ.
Here at the altar of the Eucharist, we will be in the real presence of the royal banquet of heaven, and Christ our Lord will have already really returned.
Now we only wait for the day when we shall be like him in the glory of the resurrection together with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the saints.

That God Be Glorified in All

December 03, 2006

For the First Sunday of Advent, the First Day of the Church Year

Luke 21:25-28,34-36

Today, the first day of Advent, is the first day of the Church’s calendar of worship.
From the first day of Advent— today— through December 16, the prayers and readings of the daily Mass give most of their attention to the end of the world and the second coming of Christ.
In the second part of Advent, December 17 to 24, the Church changes her prayers and readings at Mass to more specific preparation for Christmas.
Today in his Gospel, the Lord tells us to live in careful expectation of his return at the fulfillment of the world.
We are to be on constant guard, watchful, alert, faithful and ready for him to return at any moment, lest he find us negligent, careless or spiritually asleep.
Christ returns in several ways.
There will be his final return in glory for all humanity to see, when he will make all things new.
There is his private return for each of us in the hour of our individual deaths.
He also returns constantly in the perpetual opportunities of grace in daily life and faith, in moments of prayer, in the hours of work and in our relations with one another.
There is also his return and presence in the sacraments and in the Church itself.
All these ways in which the Lord returns and is present—all of these ways paradoxically both demand and strengthen our vigilance and readiness for the Lord.
The last time that eyes of flesh and blood publicly saw the Lord was on the day of his Ascension, forty days after his Resurrection from the dead.
The very last words he spoke that day were these:
… you shall be my witnesses … to the end of the earth. [Acts 1:8]

Our ascended Lord still gives us the mission to testify to all humanity on his behalf until he returns to bring the creation to its eternal fulfillment.
During the ten days between the Lord’s Ascension and the Holy Spirit’s revealing, Peter took charge.
He directed the believers to elect a replacement for Judas who had committed suicide.
As the Scripture literally puts it, Peter said, “Let another man take his place as bishop” [episkopèn].
Peter was mindful of the Lord’s last words:
… you shall be my witnesses… to the end of the earth. [Acts 1:8]

Peter told the believers to recognize a successor, a new witness:
… one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus came and went among us,
beginning from his baptism by John until the day when he was taken up from us—
one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection. [Acts 1:21-22]

The Holy Spirit was not publicly revealed until after Peter and his fellow bishops secured a new witness to carry on the testimony concerning the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
Pentecost did not take place without the fidelity of the apostles to that testimony.
The Lord wanted it that way:
… you shall be my witnesses … to the end of the earth. [Acts 1:8]

Why should the whole earth hear or even want the testimony concerning the person, life and mission of Christ?
We need Christ because he is the source of TRUTH and happiness.
He does not offer us happiness alone.
He offers us TRUTH.
Without it, happiness and everything else is necessarily false.
The last two conversations of our Lord before he died were conversations about kingship, truth and happiness.
On the cross, though he spoke to Mary, John and the heavenly Father, they remained silent; they did not converse.
The Lord’s last two conversations were with Pilate and the good thief.
With Pilate, he conversed of kingship and truth.
My kingship is not of this world….
For this I was born,
and for this I have come into the world,
to bear witness to the truth.
Every one who is of the truth hears my voice. [John 18:36-37]

Pilate retorted, “What is truth?”— but turned his back without waiting to hear any answer, and went out to confer with the angry mob.
On the cross, the Lord conversed with the good thief about kingship and happiness.
The thief said to him, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
The Lord answered, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Christ offers us a share in his kingdom of truth and happiness.
That is the witness he came to bear.
That is our testimony: a kingdom of truth and happiness.
Remember that all UN-happiness began with UN-truth: a serpent telling a lie in Paradise.
The truth is that man is made for happiness in knowing and loving God.
Without obedience to that truth, any happiness we might get on our own and by our own efforts in the material world and even in the world of human relationships— any happiness and any freedom without obedience to the truth eventually crumbles.
We are free to do many things with our bodies.
But the truth is that our bodies will pay for some of the things we might choose to do.
We are free to do many things in our relationships with other person.
But the truth is that our relationships will pay for some of the things we might choose to do.
We are free to do many things with our spiritual life.
But the truth is that our spiritual life, our relationships and even our bodies will pay for some of the things we might choose to do.
There is no freedom without truth.
Without the truth, freedom is lost sooner or later.
The truth is that we are made for happiness in knowing and loving God.
If we obey that, it does not mean we will be free of suffering in the here and now.
If we obey the truth, freedom and happiness begin to sink deep roots within us— roots whose vigor does not depend on circumstance, but on God.
Even the agnostic, secular world recognizes the depth and vigor of freedom and happiness in a genuine Christian like Mother Teresa.
Christ our Lord is the definitive demonstration and foundation of all human freedom and happiness.
The Son of God became man, and freely laid down everything— flesh and blood, mind and spirit— every fiber of his being— he freely laid it all down out of obedience to the truth.
As a result, every fiber of his humanity— flesh and blood, mind and spirit— received absolute freedom in resurrection from death.
The same freedom of God and the children of God will blossom in fullness for each of us on the day of Christ’s return— if that day finds us watchful and ready, obedient to the truth.
Until then, we receive the absolute freedom of the Son of God in his own flesh and blood given as our food and drink.
The Eucharist is the sacrament of eternal salvation.
In it, the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ plant and replant the roots of freedom and truth deep within us.
That is the truth.
That is the Eucharist.
That is our testimony.
We announce the death and resurrection of Christ until he returns.
We are to do so with our lives, with our freedom, obedient to the truth that we are made for happiness through knowing and loving God.

That God Be Glorified in All