THE LITURGICAL YEAR

Sermons, hymns, meditations and other musings to guide our annual pilgrim's progress through the liturgical year.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

TOILING AND TAKING NOTHING

 A SERMON FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST


When our blessed Lord tells a very weary St. Peter to “launch out into the deep and let down your nets,” the old fisherman is taken by surprise.  “We have toiled all the night and have taken nothing,” he exclaims.  He doesn’t understand why he should have to put his nets back on the boat and set off again to do more useless fishing.  However, despite his lack of enthusiasm for what he thinks will be a waste of time, he nevertheless complies with our Lord’s request: “At thy word I will let down the net.”  The result?  They catch more fish than will fit in their two boats.  “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

To summarize: Peter wastes his time; Jesus tells him to persevere;  Peter perseveres; Peter succeeds; Peter becomes aware of the divine power of Jesus.  Peter forsakes all and follows him.  It’s a pattern that is set before us in today’s Gospel for a reason.  After all, how frustrated are we that our efforts never seem to meet with any success.  We try to succeed at all manner of things: on the natural level, we try to save money but can’t because of inflation, we try to vote for good politicians only to find out the elections are rigged, we watch in vain as hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants cross our southern border without hindrance, we watch the justice system blatantly flaunting any idea of justice by its continued protection of left-wing monsters like Hilary Clinton, Hunter Biden, George Soros, and so on, while it persecutes the God-fearing men and women who dare to protest against stolen elections, abortion, and so on…  the list goes on and on.  And that’s only on the natural level of frustration.   Meanwhile on the spiritual level, we try rearing our children to become good Catholics, converting our friends and families to the traditional and true faith, we keep trying to preserve our Catholic culture and traditions, or to persuade our neighbors that certain ways of life or actions are morally unacceptable, while popes and bishops actively work against us.  Again, the list seems to have no end.  Frustration wherever we turn!  Like Peter we feel we’ve been toiling all the night long and haven’t caught a single thing.

Faced with this level of exasperation and disappointment, we’re down to a basic choice.  We can either give up, put our nets away and go home empty; or we can launch out again into the deep and let down those nets once more.  There is no question which choice our Lord wants us to make.  And while we may be exasperated beyond measure to have to try again, let’s take our inspiration from St. Peter our first Pope and Prince of the Apostles, who was equally unenthusiastic, but who agreed nonetheless to our Lord’s command to persevere.  With trust in God, all things are possible, and we must never lose that hope and trust in him.   We must echo the words of the 90th Psalm, “I will say unto the Lord, Thou art my hope, and my stronghold; my God, in him will I trust.  For he shall deliver me from the snare of the hunter, and from the noisome pestilence.”

And if we do suffer in this present time from many a noisome pestilence, St. Paul reckons that these sufferings “are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed to us.”  No matter how many times we bang our heads against the proverbial brick wall, there will come a day when we shall be vindicated.  At all costs, avoid falling for that old axiom, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Again, turn to the 90th Psalm: “A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand at thy right hand; * but it shall not come nigh thee.”  So turn neither to right nor left, but stay the course.  The reward will surely come, maybe in our own lifetime—it’s possible we may live to see the day when justice is meted out fairly to all God’s children, and to the sons of the Devil also.  No matter though, as one day the trumpet shall sound and the Day of Judgment shall fall upon us.  Justice shall prevail!

In anticipation of the inevitability of this success, we should comfort ourselves with that certain knowledge of the divine power of our Saviour.  Because he has given us free will, he doesn’t always intervene to change things.  But that power is ever before us, and we never know when it will be made manifest.  Like Peter, we are sinful men, and with him we fall to our knees before God.  And like him also, we should hear Christ’s words ringing in our ears: “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” 

To succeed we must take that last step of St. Peter, forsaking all, and following him.  We must take heed to our Lord’s reminder to think outside the box—success comes not in catching the fish we set out to catch, but in catching men’s souls.  We have to forsake everything else, all those apparently good attachments to our efforts to go after what we want.  We have to give all those up, at least our obsessions with succeeding in whatever we’re going after.  Instead, we need to place ourselves at God’s disposal.  Let him show us what we should really be trying to do.  Then we can shed ourselves of our vain attempts to do what we’re aiming for, and concentrate instead on what God wants from us.  Forsaking all!  This is what’s meant by forsaking all and following Christ—the abandonment of self, and the formation of a new, more meaningful attachment to the things of God.  This will make sense out of our temporary frustrations, and as St. Paul tells us, will deliver us from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.


GOD OF OUR FATHERS

A HYMN FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY


Written by Daniel C. Roberts in 1876 to commemorate

the 100th anniversary of the signing of the
Declaration of Independence

 

 

1. God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
 Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
 Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies,
 Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.

2. Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
 In this free land by Thee our lot is cast;
 Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide, and Stay,
 Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

3. From wars alarms, from deadly pestilence,
 Be Thy strong arm our ever-sure defense;
 Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
 Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

4. Refresh thy people on their toilsome way;
 Lead us from night to never ending day;
 Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
 And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine!


HIS LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

 A REFLECTION FOR THE MONTH OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD


As we get older and our thoughts turn to our legacy, we start looking at the material accumulation of wealth and property we’ve acquired (if any!), and what’s going to happen to it after we’re passed on.  Sounds a bit morbid to some of you perhaps, but that’s only because you haven’t reached the right age yet.  But eventually, you too will know that the time has come to start thinking of the welfare of your surviving spouse, your children and grandchildren.  So what do we do?  We write our Last Will and Testament.

This testament can be a simple note written by hand, or a more complex legal document, filled with clauses and provisions, drawn up and witnessed by an attorney and kept in a safe place until the fateful day.  The unique thing about it is that until then, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.  The beneficiaries of the Last Will and Testament aren’t entitled to a penny until we’re dead!  That’s why it’s such an important factor in so many murder mysteries.  The fact is, morbid or not, that in order for this document to come into effect, first, it’s author must die. 

Until that time, we can make as many changes as we want.  If we find out, for example, that one of our children has squandered all his own wealth on gambling, drugs or alcohol, we can “write him out” of the will and leave his share to another son or daughter.  If we learn that our family is being nice to us only so that they can inherit our money, we can leave all that money instead to the loyal servant who devoutly took care of us in our old age.

July is the Month of the Precious Blood, whose feast was celebrated a couple of days ago on the first of the month.  What does that have to with last wills and testaments?  Simply this: that our blessed Lord, on the night he was betrayed, took the chalice, and after giving thanks to his almighty Father, said the following words, so important for our salvation: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”  This is a new testament, a modification to God’s Old Testament, one that disinherits the people of the chosen race who had been unfaithful and who on the following day would commit the ultimate crime of deicide—murdering their Lord and Saviour.  It would no longer be the Jewish people who would be the beneficiaries of the immense riches of God, namely, his grace and his salvation.  God had chosen new beneficiaries, the children of his new Church.  And he sealed this Last Will and Testament, the new and everlasting Testament, not with pen and ink, but with his own most Precious Blood.

Like any Testament, it was for a time “worthless” and of no help yet to his new beneficiaries.  Those infinite graces, even salvation itself, could not be bestowed upon them until one simple yet required stipulation was met.  The author of this Testament had to die.  It is from this death, from the very spilling of his Blood on Calvary, perpetuated in our Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that we, the new beneficiaries of Christ’s Will, now benefit.  His Precious Blood is our inheritance, far superior than any material wealth.  His Precious Blood, received in Holy Communion, is the source of all the graces we receive, the source of our Salvation.  If we reject this our inheritance, we should never expect to enjoy its ultimate benefit, the life everlasting.