Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Update and Homily Audio

As regular readers have likely noticed, I have not posted any of my homilies since late January. That was partly due to a few weeks when I had no Sunday Mass homily to preach, and then it became a bit of an act of charity toward myself with a little blog sabbatical. But in that time I have been working on another project that I've wanted to do for a while but never made the time to investigate: homily audio. Beginning this past weekend, I will (attempt to) record one of my Sunday homilies and post them online for other to be able not only to read, but also to listen to the homilies. I am still working on some of the details, but at the moment you can follow any posts here on the blog or directly on the page that will host them: https://soundcloud.com/padrepbm

This week's homily audio can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/padrepbm/05-22-16-trinity-sunday

The text follows more or less below:

Patience. We all need it. Some of us have more of it than others. Some of us require it from others more often. Patience has been a recurring idea lately in my ministry and personal prayer. To my brother priests who are about to become pastors I gave the first and most important piece of advice: pray! And the second shortly followed, be patient. In counseling and spiritual direction the message has been continuous: be patient. And to myself, as I continue to grow as a priest and pastor, the same message: be patient.

 This weekend we celebrate Trinity Sunday, honoring the central mystery of our faith: the reality that the One God is Three Persons. Much has been said about God through the centuries and much more remains to be said in the fullness of time. In ages past there were many struggles in the life of the Church to understand this God who is Trinity and Unity. In the Early Church there were numerous struggles over the person of Jesus and how exactly He fit into the picture; whether He was fully God, fully man, a hybrid. How each person of the Trinity was God was a reality that had to be prayed and understood over time and through the Councils of the Church. In later centuries philosophers began to wrestle not so much with the things of the Early Church, but with more philosophical understandings of God. They used terms like ‘transcendentals’, referring to God as ‘The Good, True, and Beautiful’ and as ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought’, and ‘the unmoved mover’. These and many other descriptions helped to make sense of God from a philosophical perspective. But while both of these are still important and discussed in certain circles, it seems to me that the larger issue that the members of the Church struggle with in reference to God today is what we would understand as His patience.

According to modern scientific theory, the universe is somewhere around 14 billion years old. The human person, the crown of creation, seems to have existed only around a million years or so. That is a LONG time to wait to place the final piece of the puzzle. When God made Adam and Eve, they fell to sin and in the second chapter of Genesis the Christ was prophesied. And it was many thousands of years before He actually came. The people of Israel were chosen by God to be His own people and a light to the nations and yet right from the start they spent 400 years in slavery in Egypt and, when they finally knew freedom, they spent another 40 years in the desert. The Christ was prophesied and another 1000 years passed before His birth. He came among us and from a human perspective we would expect to have great fanfare, the blaring of trumpets, beating of drums, and confetti tossed into the air, but He spent 30 years working in a carpenter shop before beginning His public ministry. Before His Ascension into Heaven, He told the disciples He would come back again and for 2000 years we’ve been waiting. This great mystery, God who is Trinity, is incredibly patient.

The culture in which we live does not lend itself to the use of patience. We are a culture of quick – quick food, quick communication, quick travel, quick everything. But God works in exactly the opposite manner, seeing things from a very different view. And it is that view that we’re invited to adopt for ourselves – patience.

The Letter to the Romans speaks to us and says that we ought to boast in our afflications – our trials, crosses, struggles, whatever you call them – because they produce endurance. The Traditional Latin Mass readings for Saturday included this same reading and the translation then actually said ‘patience’, afflictions produce patience. And patience, or endurance, produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint. The thing is that patience is hope in action. The thing is that God is not limited by time and space, so in a sense that we can’t understand all of history and all things that exist are, to God, ‘here and now’. God sees the full picture and works on a scale the likes of which we cannot even begun to understand and for this reason we become impatient. We are limited by our time, location, personal experience, and more. So we are invited to remember the bigger picture, even if we can’t see it, and to be patient in the midst of it unfolding. A patience that leads to hope; hope in action. Hope is the assurance of thing yet unseen, so to be patient is to have hope in that which is to come and to be patient here and now, confident that God will help us, that God will strengthen us, that God will accomplish that which we await. So we look there (heaven) and gain strength to be patient here (earth).

How many times have I heard and said, “It’s frustrating to go to confession because it seems like I say the same thing every time and it never changes!” I want grow, to change, to be better and yet nothing is happening! To this the Lord responds: patience. How many times I’ve prayed and longed for a resolution to a particular trial that was going on in my life or the life of another person and after countless prayers it seems like nothing has changed, where is the Lord here? And to this, too, the Lord responds: patience. In so many ways, over and over again, He invites us to patience, to see the bigger picture and to be filled with hope that God will hear our cry.

As we enter into the summer, the liturgical year becomes a bit quieter and the major feasts fade into a quieter routine, so I want to invite you to have a patient little walk with me and the parish - a 92-day journey (the months of June, July, and August) with a focus on one particular thing. I say one particular thing because the temptation in the spiritual life, as in everything else in our life, is to try to do a whole bunch at once. So, fight that temptation and be patient with one thing. Here is a list of 10 possibilities, though there are certainly others the Lord may be inviting you to consider.

1) For one day a week, do everything at half the speed you normally would. Not twice the speed. Half the speed. The only exception is driving; please don’t drive half your normal speed because you will certainly cause a wreck! But everything else, half the speed and give yourself the time to enjoy those things that ‘have to be done’.

2) If you’re not already doing it, maybe consider simply coming to Mass every weekend for those 92 days, being patient with your own struggles and the struggle that coming to Mass brings with it.

3) It wouldn’t a list from Father Brent without mentioning confession! So maybe to resolve to go to confession once a month from those three months and encounter the patient God Himself and receive grace.

4) Consider bringing a notebook to Sunday Mass during those 92 days and writing down one thing from Mass that ‘spoke to you’ and praying with it through the rest of the week.

5) Read the Bible for 10-15 minutes a day and learn about the other ways that God has been patient with His people through the years.

6) Make Sunday a day of rest, set aside solely for family and faith. Often we can become busy with so many things that the Commandment to ‘Keep holy the sabbath’ gets lost in the mix. Make a point to revive it.

7) Share a meal as a family a certain number of times each week and talk with each other. Share in each other’s joys and struggles and help others to be patient by your encouragement.

8) Find a good Catholic book and read through it slowly and reflectively, allowing it sink deeply into your heart.

9) Make a point to visit the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament for an hour each week. St. Ann is open during the days and St. Mary’s has the Adoration Chapel, so plan for one hour each week to simply sit with the Lord in the quiet and talk with Him.

10) Pray together as a family. Pick one night each week (or multiple nights!) to pray the rosary together or do scripture sharing together.

These and many other things are ways in which we can learn to become more patient by encountering the infinitely patient God we love and serve. And so pick one and patiently walk with it. If you see some fruits from it, great! If you see nothing from it and feel no warm fuzzies, cool. Be patient. There is nothing that we do that goes unnoticed by the Lord and He will not let us go astray. So let us pray the Lord to teach us to be patient, that we might be patient with Him, patient with each other, and patient with ourselves.