lundi, avril 14, 2008

Sermon for the third Sunday after Easter

We have in our traditional missal an endless treasure that we should never undervalue. It is composed for the main part of passages from the Holy Scripture which have been set by the Church in the right place according to the liturgical celebration of the day in order to help us live the holy time in unison with her. Saint Ignatius of Loyola put it very well with his famous “sentire cum Ecclesia.” We translate it in English as “to think with the Church.” This translation is true, but “sentire” means more than thinking. It means also, to feel. It is not only the accepting of the intellectual teaching of the Church, but more than this, it is the offering of our feelings, our sensibilities and of our thoughts which join those of Holy Mother Church. It does not concern only the infallible teaching of the Church expressed by the Magisterium, but it takes into consideration her desires and aspirations. It is not only about respecting her authority in dogmatic and moral matters, but it involves the desire to actively and valiantly participate with her efforts in the sanctification of souls, her missionary work and her zeal for the defense and the propagation of the faith. It requires a good dose of humility, by which we are enabled to serve not according to our own ways, but according to her ways.
Let us now return to our missal. A deep and attentive reading of the proper of the Mass helps us to acquire the feelings of the Church. It is a good thing to read them before Mass, which will help you to follow the Liturgy better. It is sometimes difficult to catch all the richness and the fullness of the liturgy when you just discover the texts as they are being read or sung. This is especially true if you have to take care of children at the same time. I know that for the parents of large families, it can be a perilous and delicate exercise.
There is especially a part of the Mass that we do not often consider as well as we should, and yet it is certainly an important one that can truly help us to understand and acquire the feeling of the Church for the current day. It is the first prayer of the proper of the day, which is named the Collect. For those who are not familiar with the Liturgy, it is the prayer that takes place after the Gloria, or right after the Kyrie Eleison when there is no Gloria. It is a request addressed by the Church to God, through Our Lord – per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum. As such, this prayer is always heard and accepted by God who cannot ignore the voice of the Church. Therefore, it is a model of prayer for us, that should inspire our own prayer and if we really want to feel with the Church, we should join our minds and our hearts to pray with her for the very particular intention she has every day.
Another good thing to do would be to open your missal during your morning prayer and to read the Collect of the day. At least you can do it for the Sundays and important liturgical feasts. Then you can take a few minutes to meditate on it, so that you can understand the intention of the Church and make a good resolution in order to make this intention yours. For families that have prayer in common, which I hope you do, it would be a good idea that a member of the family read aloud this prayer, and the father – who is supposed to be the head of the family and the leader of its prayer – can give a commentary which can help the children to understand it and encourage them to pray for this intention.

The daily missal: it will help you to pray with the Church

Let us take a look now on today’s Collect: O God, who dost show to them that are in error the light of Thy truth, that they may return into the way of righteousness; grant to all those who profess themselves Christians to reject those things which are contrary to that name, and follow such things as are agreeable to the same. Through our Lord.
This text is rich enough to keep us busy meditating on it for a good while. There are different elements on which we can fix our thoughts. For example, “the light of the truth.” What is it? Is the truth really luminous? How? Why? You see, just with these few words – the light of the truth – you have your subject of meditation for today. Then what does God want? He shows the light of His truth to them that are in error. Is this also what you want? Do you desire as much as the Church does that those who are in error can see the light that can guide them toward the port of salvation? So, your meditation can be followed by a prayer that asks God to excite your desire for the conversion of souls. You can ask God what you can do in order to help them see the light of the truth. Then your prayers can be followed by a resolution. If you want to help others see this light, you must first know how to recognize it and know what the truth is and how to teach it. On this matter, there are a lot of resolutions that you can make.
Then, the second part of the prayer concerns us, “those who profess themselves Christians.” What does the Church ask for us? She desires that we reject those things which are contrary to the name of Christian. Here again, a deep subject of meditation. What is contrary to the name of Christian? How can we discern these things in the world where we live now? How can I find the courage and the strength to reject them? Once again, this meditation should be followed by prayer and resolutions. Then, we do not have only to reject what is not Christian, but we have to “follow such things as are agreeable to the same” name. Christian life is not only renouncing the things that are not compatible with faith, but it is first something positive. Here again, another subject of meditation: what are the things agreeable that we have to follow? How can we follow them? And again, this meditation should be followed by prayer and resolutions.

What I have given you today is just a way, an easy way, to feel with the Church. Everyone can do this, and for you parents, it is something that you can teach to your children. Give them the habit of using their missal while they are still young. The missal is the book that every Catholic should keep with him all of his life. It is a family heritage that we can give from generation to generation. Indeed, it is with a certain legitimate pride that we keep in our homes the beautifully illustrated missals of the beginning of the XX century that belonged to our grandparents.

May Our Lady teach us how to feel with the Church so that we can be totally and entirely one with her.

1 commentaire:

Anonyme a dit…

Thank you so much for this excellent sermon! It is very helpful to have your example of a meditation on the Collect. Thank you for your patience in teaching and always underscoring everything with the heart intention of the caring and nurturing Church. The Missal is truly an amazing work to aid in the sanctification of the faithful.