O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum.. Alleluia.
O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord.. Alleluia!
Christmas has so many “trinity” themes. Father, Son, Holy Spirit; Jesus, Mary and Joseph, So let me ask you a trinity of questions:
Question #1 – Are you bored? Do you find church boring? Is this homily boring? Maybe your boredom is not your fault, maybe it’s ours. Maybe we have filled your head with facts and figures for so many years and not meaning and mystery. You know what that produces? It produces nice people. Nice people go to nice churches. They’re boring. They talk about all of the nice things they’re doing. We want to talk about the things that God is doing. And that is certainly not nice.
Question #2 – Are you happy?” How would you honestly answer that? Understand that happiness does not equal pleasure. To equate happiness with pleasure is a fantasy. Given our fantasy of what happiness should be, many of us might tend to answer in the negative: “No, I don’t think I’m really happy. I would like to be, but there are too many limitations and frustrations in my life which seem to block happiness.”
For a Christian, there is a better question. The essential question should not be, “Am I happy”? but rather, “Is my life meaningful?” That is a question, which can purify our perspective on things.
Question #3 is related to Question #1 about being bored. If you are then Question #3 is, why are you here? Why are you here celebrating Christmas at St. Monica?
Why are you on earth? You know something – you are here for a purpose. You have a mission. And understand that mission is different than destiny. Destiny is a course of events, a special place to which you have been called. A life story to which God invites you but it’s not guaranteed. A destiny can go unfulfilled.
- To fulfill your destiny, you have to know your mission.
- To fulfill your mission, you have to become the best version of yourself.
- To become the best version of yourself, you will be happy.
If you are not happy, you are probably not becoming the best version of yourself.
At St. Monica, we’ve been taking some cues and clues from the new Pope St. Francis. We have begun to ask ourselves some difficult and challenging questions.
What are we doing? What are we celebrating? Either energy and enthusiasm are increasing or energy and enthusiasm are decreasing. This applies to a person, or a parish, or a diocese or to a church.
Are we thriving – or merely surviving? If the parish is not thriving, it is because you and I are not thriving.
With the birth of Christ, born as a human being, as a baby, everything has changed. Pope Francis was recently chosen the “Man of the Year” because he seems to be calling the big, burgeoning, bureaucratic Bark of Peter to change. And change does not come naturally. Embracing complexity and acknowledging risk is not easy.
He says that we need to look at the church, our church, THIS church, and face our issues honestly. And I need to look at myself and the role in which I play in it.
The problem as Francis sees it , is not whether we are bringing people to church; the problem is that we are not bringing the church to the people.
Even if you don’t see it, Christ is renewing the church – and you are the Cathedral. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you thus the child to be born in you will be called holy the son of God.” Once you receive the Eucharist soon from this altar, the Holy Spirit overshadows you. Where are you going to take him? To what purpose?
St. Ignatius of Loyola said “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Someone who isn’t bored. Someone who is becoming the best version of themself. Someone who is happy.