Tuesday, July 22, 2008

About becoming living altars....


As I sit here, reading the homily of Pope Benedict, on the occasion of the dedication of the new altar at St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney during the EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION WITH BISHOPS, SEMINARIANS AND NOVICES, I can't help but be so touched. There are s many beautiful words there that this post would not be enough to express it.

First of all, I loved the image us "being set apart for Christ " like an altar. Because although many religious claim that they are just like anybody else, and try to be like anybody else, the truth is that by our calling, we have been set apart to be the hands and feet of Christ. Pope Benedict is right in saying that
"In the name of human freedom and autonomy, God’s name is passed over in silence, religion is reduced to private devotion, and faith is shunned in the public square." I, by choosing a clearly identifiable outer sign of my vocation, tell the world that I have been set apart for Christ. It isn't always easy. Sometimes people treat me differently, sometimes they want to pay for my stuff, or expect me to have an answer for every single thing in life...yet, I know that people need God. It is God they see, not me!

"We too can be tempted to make the life of faith a matter of mere sentiment...I do not want my life to be mere sentiment, therefore I have chosen the best part. But I know it doesn't stop there, or with my profession...I know it requires a constant conversion. As the Pope says: It is in this truth – this mystery of faith – that we have been “consecrated” (cf. Jn 17:17-19), and it is in this truth that we are called to grow, with the help of God’s grace, in daily fidelity to his word, within the life-giving communion of the Church. Yet how difficult is this path of consecration! It demands continual “conversion”, a sacrificial death to self which is the condition for belonging fully to God, a change of mind and heart which brings true freedom and a new breadth of vision. Sometimes people think that we pray all the time, or that things work out all right every time. They do not! Religious life is hard. If only it was about donning a habit and singing "The hills are alive..." but it isn't. Sometimes the hardest part is the everyday, realizing that the life, although prophetic is not grandiose, sometimes the sacrifice is staying behind curtains, dying to self and all it entails...not putting on the beautiful habit that will turn heads, being the last...

Then our Pope courageously spoke to the victims of abuse. He called the sin by it's name and acknowledged the pain it has caused in many people, especially the young, the future of our Church. I applaud the Pope for addressing this because it is the only way our Church and the victims will heal. I can sense that the young will transform the Church. I mean, just look at how many people came from every corner of the world. How many seminarians and young religious Sisters and Brothers are giving their lives to God. Our Church has a brilliant future.

The Pope tells us: Do not be afraid! Believe in the light! Take to heart the truth which we have heard in today’s second reading: “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and for ever” (Heb 13:8). The light of Easter continues to dispel the darkness! And he also calls us to walk in the light daily through fidelity to personal and liturgical prayer, nourished by meditation on the inspired word of God. I know that it is not easy, but that prayer and the nourishment I receive through the daily partaking of the Eucharist builds me up, prepares me and disposes me for a life of conversion, a life where I can be an extension of the Incarnation or as the Pope puts it to become living altars, where Christ’s sacrificial love is made present as an inspiration and a source of spiritual nourishment to everyone you meet.

So, I want to continue on this path. The Pope says that by embracing the Lord’s call to follow him in chastity, poverty and obedience, you have begun a journey of radical discipleship which will make you “signs of contradiction” And of that I am sure. A sign of contradiction is the most appropriate way to describe our lives modeled after Christ. I just pray that God will give me the strenght to continue to spread the scent of my youth and to put it all God's feet.

If you have ever thought of being a Priest, a Brother or a Sister, do not be afraid! This life is worth it. Do not be afraid to be a sign of contradiction, to become a living altar, the love and prayer of the Church is with you.

Praised be the Incarnate Word!

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