Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Homily Sixth Sunday of the Year 11 February 2007

Several years ago,
I attended a Eucharistic Congress at the BNSIC in Washington, DC…
and I was invited to be part of the Mass and procession of the B. S.
celebrated by Cardinal Arinze.
Cardinal Arinze is the head of the Vatican office for worship and sacraments.
He is someone I admire very much…
and, even though I was one of many seminarians in the procession,
it was an honor to be part of that celebration.
It was a splendid event…
Televised nationally…
So there was a chance I might be on TV.
Of course at the time I thought all this was pretty exciting!

The procession made its way from the church…outside…to the front portico.
There the Cardinal celebrated Benediction
before the crowd of a couple thousand people.
We were then to process around the other side of the church and back inside.
As I turned to go down the steps…
I lost my footing…and tumbled all the way down 6 stone steps!

my excitement at being part of this big event was gone.
I didn’t fall hard enough to be injured…just a little sore.
But what was really hurt was my pride!

A line from The Godfather…one of my favorite movies…soon came to my mind:
“A man in my position cannot afford to made to look ridiculous!”
I looked ridiculous…and I felt humiliated!

Later reflection revealed to me that I needed to be humbled at that moment…
for being so prideful about my place in that liturgy.

I used that line jokingly once when I was talking to my spiritual director.
Knowing well how to put me in my place, he said…
“A man of your position? Do you know what your position is?
You’re a foot washer!”

Truly, a man called to be a priest is called to follow the example of the Lord,
who washed the feet of His Disciples.

You will recall that a few weeks ago I was not feeling up to par…
and I had lost my voice.
Well, I had spent quite some time preparing what I thought was an excellent homily.
And suddenly I could hardly speak a word!
Once again, I needed to be humbled,
for thinking that somehow I had the world’s greatest homily.

The Lord often speaks to us not in apparitions but in the little things of life.

If we are open to perceiving the hand of God at work in the world…
we will discover His presence in the details of life.

Often when we think we can do it all on our own…
and do it better than anybody…
the Lord shows us in one little way or another
that in truth we need Him for everything.

As disciples of Jesus, we are each called to cultivate the virtue of humility.

Humility…in a nutshell…teaches us to know and appreciate our position…
before God and one another.

Humility does not mean that we depreciate ourselves.
Rather, the humble person recognizes who He truly is:
He is aware of his talents, abilities, and strengths.
He also is aware of his weaknesses and sins.
Above all, he knows that everything he has is from the Lord,
and without the Lord he has nothing.

In moments of weakness and sin,
the humble person does not wallow in self-pity,
but cries out to the Lord, who alone is his strength.

Humility also teaches us that our gifts and talents…
are meant not for our glory
but the for good of the church and our neighbors.
It is not difficult to understand, then, that humility is called
“the mother of salvation”…
and the first of the virtues.
For all other virtues we long for on the path to holiness
depend on humility.
To have faith, hope, and love…
to be chaste…
to be patient…kind…and gentle…
to be temperate…
to be just…
or to have courage…
one must first be humble.

The path to holiness begins with recognizing who we truly are
before God and in relation to one another.

And so, God speaks to us in the Holy Scriptures today.
through the Prophet Jeremiah, the Psalmist, and the Holy Evangelist Luke:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh.”
“Woe to you who are rich…who are filled.”
“Woe to you when all speak well of you”

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.”
“Blessed are you who are poor…who are hungry.”
“Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you…”
Pride makes us want to be rich…
to be surrounded by the best of everything…
to be popular…
to have people speak well of us.

Humility teaches us to hope in the Lord…
to trust and hope in Him rather than in the world
and to be satisfied with serving Him rather than ourselves.

Humility means being “poor in spirit”…
knowing our place before the awesome presence of God.

Humility finds its ultimate exemplar in the person of Jesus Christ,
who for our sake humble Himself even unto death on a Cross…
and in his poverty showed us all the way to holiness.

The splendor of humility is portrayed in the image of the Annunciation to Mary.
At the angel Gabriel’s message that she would bear the Christ Child…
Mary, a young virgin girl…
no doubt confused by what the angel said…
simply replied: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”
Mary knew her place before the Lord.


In my first semester of college seminary…
I was privileged had a class in spirituality taught by a saintly old priest.
He was a short little Irishman, with a thick New York accent.
You could see in his eyes and in his smile that he loved he Lord, and loved each of us.

I can remember very clearly his lecture on humility.
He taught us a beautiful prayer by Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val,
called “The Litany of Humility.”
There are certain stanzas to which each of us can relate.

[READ PRAYER – “Litany of Humility”]

The Scriptures today…the First Reading and the Psalm… use the image of tree.
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord…who hopes in the Lord.”
“He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream.”
“It yields its fruit in due season.”
“Its leaves stay green.”

The stream of running water is Christ, present to us in the Sacraments.

We plant ourselves close to Him, and stretch out our roots to Him.
Humbly we recognize our place before Him and with one another.

Firmly planted in Him, we shall remain ripe and bear much fruit.

No comments: