Midmorning Prayer, Saturday June 1st
We just prayed in the first psalm for today, (Psalm 119:169-176 XXII(Tau)) the words:
Let my lips proclaim your praise
because you teach me your statutes.
Let my tongue sing your promise
for your commands are just.
It is a prayer to fulfill the obligation we have taken on as followers of Christ. The laity; and especially the Knights of Columbus, has vowed to the Lord that we will be heralds of the Gospel message. Each of us is called to be ‘a Prophet of the most high’ as Zachariah proclaimed to his son John the Baptist; ‘to go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation…’
In whatever time we live and situation we find ourselves in, it is up to us to proclaim the good news. We are called to live in this world, but not be of the world. This message was so important that it was part the last address of his holiness Benedict XVI to the College of Cardinals. We should not allow the world to mold us; rather we should radiate the light of Christ and help mold the world.
This calling, along with the demands it entails has been handed on for almost two thousand years. It has been lived by the faithful in times of turmoil and uncertainty; in fact it has been lived in only these types of times because those are the only times we have. As dire as the world seems today, with the tragedies of war and death as well as the continuous onslaught of secularists against our message, it has always been so. We only need look into history to see this. For us this means it should be no excuse not to proclaim the Gospel, with our words and lives; because those who came before us did it.
Two weeks ago Dolores and I traveled to France on our annual vacation/pilgrimage and spent three days and nights in Lourdes. To understand the history of the Church in France for the past 200 years is to understand attacks of the enlightened ‘intelligentsia’ (who ran the government) against the Church and her people. St. Bernadette’s story was one of proclamation of the Gospel message and Mary’s visitation against the overwhelming face and force of the government. They did everything to stop her message, and then to stop the church and her followers from celebrating it. But God’s truth won out eventually, with the ingenuity and help of the faithful members, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Our time is no more volatile and precarious so we need to be the latest version of that little maiden; we need to wrap ourselves with Christ’s strength and proclaim His message without fear; and to proclaim it with the love and humility that Bernadette showed.
The world needs us to proclaim Christ; the people, whether they know it or not, hunger for it. This was continually brought to my attention as Dolores and I prayed or attended Masses in the great churches and cathedrals we visited. For instance, as we were praying in the great Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, waiting for the Vigil Vespers and Vigil Mass for Pentecost to begin; I couldn’t help but notice that we were being watched by the thousands of tourists circling us. They were stopping and taking pictures of the Vesper service and Mass; we were part of the display so to speak. But most importantly (I felt), they were curious about what we were doing. We were witnessing to God in the midst of the worldly – we were in the world not of it. This example reinforced to me just how important every action in our lives can be. Every word, opinion, task and reaction that we make has the potential to be like that scene in Notre Dame de Paris, someone might be watching, someone who needs the message; needs God’s love; needs Christ in their lives.
This is what we are called to be and do – in a very important way Knights are heralds of God’s message. But we need to be Knights in the true sense of the word; we need to live our calling. Knights of old had a code, they lived for honor within that code – the same is true of us – our code is our faith. It just isn’t good enough, as Knights to go out and do good deeds, even in the name of Christ if within all of our actions we don’t profess our faith. The reason for our charity isn’t because we want to help people, worthy as that is it isn’t what we are about. Our reason for our charitable action is because we love Christ, plain and simple, and He would expect nothing less of those who love Him.’ In his first homily as Pope, to the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis spoke of this exact message:
“we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful non-governmental organization, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ.’
Now I have to admit, as you already know – this isn’t an easy task, for to reach this level we need to share in the Cross. We need to accept the task of carrying this symbol of ultimate love. To proclaim Christ Jesus, in a true and meaningful way, we must embrace the Cross. Again Pope Francis:
“When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, (and I would add our vocations to his list) but not disciples of the Lord.
I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage – the courage – to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward.” and so will we.
This afternoon we start our celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi; the celebration of the Most Sacred Body and Blood of our Lord. We come together to give thanks for His presence among us, give thanks for His continual gift of His Body and Blood that strengthens us, and of course to proclaim to the world that we have a better way, indeed the only way to true happiness. As we celebrate and follow the Monstrance through the streets of Bolingbrook lets pray that our actions in following Christ during this procession continue throughout our lives so that we can live the words of Zechariah ‘go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation…’