A Second’s Thought
Were you there? Do you remember?
I’ve been thinking recently about “legacy” and what we’ve received from previous generations and what we are passing along to our kids and the future.
Bishop Untener sought to share the GOOD NEWS of God’s LOVE come to us in Jesus the Christ as he led our diocese—and through the LITTLE BOOKS legacy he left.
Back in 2001, Bishop Ken was here at Assumption and the collection of his homilies archived online at the Visitation North retreat house website reminded me of his message delivered on Good Shepherd Sunday in 2001: “In this 50-day Easter season we try to remind ourselves and become more conscious in a hundred different ways, of how holy we are.
“That may sound strange. None of us really would want to say that about ourselves—"I'm a holy person." But it's true. It's not something that is of our own doing. It's a gift, totally a gift.
“We heard Jesus describe it in the Gospel: "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life."
“The "eternal life" Jesus gives us, by sending his Spirit, is divine life, God's life. It isn't something that clicks on after we die. It's in us right now, and if we have God's life within us, we are holy.
“And our first reading says "The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit." The same Holy Spirit has been given to us. If we have the Holy Spirit within us, we are holy.
“It's hard to believe that. It's much easier to believe that God is holy than it is to believe that we are holy. But remember what we sang after the first reading: "We are God's people, the flock of the Lord." We have a 50-day Easter season because we need time to let that sink in.
“Earlier today I dedicated a new church building at Assumption Parish, Larkin. Most people have never seen the dedication of a new church because in most people's lifetime, their parish doesn't build a new church. It is a magnificent ceremony, filled with symbols.
“The high point is the anointing of the altar and the building itself with the holy chrism. I poured chrism over the bare altar, and then in silence I spread that chrism over the entire altar top. Then I took chrism and walked around the entire church on the inside, stopping many times along the way to rub chrism into the wall, making a large cross.
“Then I took incense, incensed the altar all around and then I walked around the church incensing the walls. The whole church filled with the aroma of the chrism and of the incense. You knew that this was holy space, a holy place.
“But remember. That same chrism was rubbed on us--at our Baptism, and at Confirmation. We are holy people. We have been "chrismed" (it's the same word as "Christ;" it means we too are "anointed by God.") We are holy people.
“In the first 200 years of Christianity they didn't build churches. They gathered in homes. But with the increase in numbers they needed larger places to gather, so they built churches. And they filled them with holy symbols--the altar, the cross, the flowing baptismal water, a place for God's word, stained glass windows.
“Some might say that we have all these holy symbols in the church building
because God lives there. No. God is there, of course, but God is everywhere. We have those holy symbols because we gather there. These symbols come at us from all sides to remind us that we are a holy people, filled with God's Spirit. A church building is the house of God's people. That's us.
“These sacred, holy symbols remind us of how God acts upon us to make us holy people.
“I close with a suggestion. We call the household of a Christian the "domestic church." So we need holy symbols in our homes to remind us of who we are. We need prayer in our homes to draw us closer to God. I call upon all of us, and in a special way those who have just become fully part of the Catholic Church, to recognize your home as a holy place. Make sure that you have
holy symbols there--pictures, or sculptures, or a simple cross. Make sure there is a "prayer place" in your home, not a separate room, but a place such that you can say, "That's where I sit when I pray."
“You see, we can't come together weekly in this church building for Sunday Eucharist and pray well unless we've been doing that at home during the week. It’s like someone who plays in an orchestra with a concert every week. They have to play at home during the week. They can't show up at the concert and expect to play well if they haven't been playing that instrument in their home. That is where they deepen their appreciation of music and improve their skills.
“So I appeal to you and I plead with you to make sure that you make your home a holy place--holy with symbols and
holy with prayer... simple prayers before meals... quiet prayers with the Lord. I appeal to you and I plead with you to recognize that you are a holy person... to take to heart the words we sang together after the first reading: "We are God's people, the flock of the Lord."
“Not to be trite, but I can't help but think, "Play it again, Sam. Play it at home. Play it over and over a hundred different ways. Play it out in your life. 'We are God's people, the flock of the Lord.'"
A legacy of LOVE for our living!