A Call to Holiness
Almost twenty years ago, when the sex abuse crisis in the Church started, I preached many times that what was happening is that God was strengthening His Church for there were difficult times coming. I have preached here that obviously the difficult times have arrived. However, that does not assume that our current difficult times in our nation are static. They are not, they are dynamic and sliding further into trouble. This is why today’s second reading is so essential.
I saw an interesting video this week about a runaway train that devastated a neighborhood in San Bernardino California in the late 1980s. You may remember the news stories. Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board realized that the accident that devastated the neighborhood was inevitable the minute that train left the yard. Several issues with the train and miscalculations with the cargo made that train unstoppable once it reached a steep incline heading into San Bernadino. All that the workers did to stop the train proved futile. The only thing they actually could have done was to prepare for the crash.
This is where our country is right now. We are not in a situation in which we have to defeat them, whomever “them” may be, there are greater forces at work and focusing on defeating them is like trying to turn more switches for greater brake power on the train.
Chris Hedges in a speech for the Media Sanctuary in Troy, New York on YouTube says that the American Empire is coming to an end. Remember, this month, the United States is pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Ironically, Pat Buchanan about ten years ago said the same thing. If there are two people in media who are more opposite I cannot think of any two more than Chris Hedges and Pat Buchanan but they say essentially the same message on the future of our country.
Cardinal Robert Sarah warned the western world is now in a similar situation to the fall of the Roman Empire.
At one time, they said the sun does not set on the British Empire. Now the sun shines on Britain every day from dawn to dusk London Time.
What is our role in all of this? Holiness is always our call but we can see the need for our holiness today more than any other day. You and I have a calling right here in Allston, Massachusetts making sure that we pursue holiness because over the next ten years we may see a change in our country like we have never seen previously. Our living holiness will be a sign of hope to those lost in the confusion.
You may have heard of those who tell people to claim that as white people they are privileged. These are powerful words presented in a disturbing way. However, we Catholics have acknowledged this for centuries. Have you never heard our prayers for the underprivileged? If we pray for the underprivileged we are acknowledging we are privileged. We are also acknowledging we have a duty to use our privilege in service to others and we are in sin if we do not.
We have been teaching this for centuries.
We are seeing political processes in our nation that reflect an attitude of we want our world our way and blindness in public service to the real needs that are going unmet.
I said twenty years ago that there was a move in this country to silence the voice of the church so that there would be no influence of our faith in any sphere so that what we see is the current message may be proclaimed. We now see a current message put forth by two political parties that are directed by their financial supporters. They act in ways that reflect a complete loss of the virtue of charity in service to others. You can see the leaders of big tech have become more powerful than elected officials and the officials are now subservient to them or else they will be silenced.
When times get tough God raises people to be the sign of his presence to those lost in confusion and despair. We are called to be those people, which is why our prayer and holiness is essential. When I say “we” I mean you and me.
Today’s second reading calls for us to put off the old man and to put on the new. The oldness according to St. Jerome is living by the letter of the law. The new is living by the Holy Spirit. We do that first in prayer and growing in wisdom and grace. We must pray and explore avenues of prayer every day. I suggest exploring the best in Catholic spiritual reading and I suggest being people who beg God to show you how to deepen your relationship with Him more and more every day. This is what it means to be a Catholic. Of course, I recommend devotion to the rosary.
There is a powerful understanding in today’s second reading. It is that we have been called to a holiness that separates ourselves from the world. Going back to the train image, if you imagine everyone around you doing all they can to stop the train, you realize now our role is to prepare ourselves for the inevitable, that way we can be strong enough to help rebuild and pick up the pieces. Our preparation is by seeking the holiness to which we were called at Baptism. Pope St. John XXIII warned that our baptism means nothing if we lack virtue through our pursuit of holiness. The profession of our faith must not only be a statistic in a census, he said, but must create the new person and give all our actions a supernatural strength inspiring, guiding and controlling them.
Clearly, we must prepare and be ready. We must seek holiness through our prayerful action the likes of which we have not done before. The nation may not need us now, they believe, but they will need our holiness in the future. It is time to take our faith very seriously in preparation for this future moment.
A reminder of events at St. Anthony Parish in Allston, MA
7:00pm Tuesday, there is a discussion about St. Thomas Aquinas' Treatise on Happiness
There is a standing invitation to Mass on Sundays at 10:00.