Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From October 23rd, 2011 Bulletin)

…with all your heart

       “Dishes?!”, Cardinal George exclaimed, “I’m not talking about dishes!” The Cardinal of Chicago was meeting with some of my classmates at seminary and had broached the topic of manual labor. He told the group that he was thinking that it might be good for them to be doing some manual labor around the seminary grounds. At this suggestion one classmate said, “But Cardinal George, we do dishes once a month in the refectory.” The Cardinal’s head snapped in the seminarian’s direction, with his great Roman nose protruding and bald head shining, like an eagle ready to pounce.

        “Dishes?!” he shouted, angry at such a puny offering. “I’m talking about chopping wood and working up a sweat.” The seminarian caught the fullness of the cardinal’s rebuke. Cardinal George wanted men to be giving more of themselves, even the strength of their bodies. The command we hear from Jesus in today’s gospel speaks of the fullness of love we owe to God, that is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” While Matthew doesn’t include ‘strength’ in this quote, Mark and Luke do. It’s part of our offering to God. We are body and soul, and owe God everything.

       This past week’s gospel asks us to render unto God what is God’s. Shouldn’t we offer Him everything? The notion that 5% belongs to God as we tithe our finances can obscure the reality that everything comes from Him and a full Christian life offers everything back. Not that He doesn’t want us to spend money on ourselves; but if our whole self is offered to God, then even what we spend on ourselves will more likely be spent for His glory, and not our own. To love God with all of our heart would mean giving over all areas of life that ought to belong to Him. Are we doing something more worthwhile with our lives than offering just the minimum?

Red Mass, Part II (of III): Archbishop Sartain’s Homily for Members of the Supreme Court

       …The Desert Father Poemen said, “Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart.”
       St. Paul recognized that Christian freedom is not only freedom “from” the constraints of sin but freedom “for” positive striving for fulfillment in Christ, a natural and critical outgrowth of faith and one’s desire to live life to the full, peacefully and integrally.

       He also knew that at the heart of the Gospel is a mandate which both draws challengingly on the deepest resources of human freedom and opens up for the individual and for society the most complete fulfillment possible: and that is the spirit of loving self-giving, made manifest in acts – in lives – of total sacrifice.

       As human persons we are not fully alive – even if we follow a balanced, healthy lifestyle and nourish ourselves with all that is good and beautiful in culture – unless we live for something beyond ourselves, unless we give ourselves to Someone beyond ourselves. It was that spirit, that stance, in Solomon which caught God’s eye:

Because you have not asked for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right – I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you (1 Kings 3:11-12).

       Solomon desired to use his gifts for others – literally for the good of his people, who were, after all, God’s people – and thus for the purpose for which God gives every one of his gifts. It is love which makes the using of one’s gifts perfect; it is love which makes the gift of oneself beautiful in the eyes of God; it is love which best manifests the presence of God in our personal and public lives. This love is not just altruism. Rather, it is conscious participation in the sacrificial love of Christ, which the Christian disciple realizes he or she is called to communicate and proclaim – in everything.

       It is impossible to overstate the importance of the perfection and integration which self-forgetfulness, generosity, and humility bring to a Christian’s life of service. Why? Because these virtues manifest our desire not just to do well, but to do the good and to deliberately manifest in our lives the One Who Is Good. We can barely grasp the extraordinary depth of God’s humility, the infinity of his love, and the mind-boggling truth that he has invited us to share in his very life and in his care for his people.

For the full account of the Red Mass see:

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