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It Matters. Homily for 15th Week of Ordinary Time

Practically everybody to whom I have talked to recently have lamented about the loss of civility that they had seen or heard or experienced. This is been especially the case in the media and on-line.

An interesting insight has surfaced in the discussions that I have had about this. It involves an aspect that is perhaps simultaneously the problem and the solution. People have talked about the sheer humanity that is being expressed because of the current situation. The beauty of humanity has been on display. Acts of charity. Gentleness. Kind words. Encouragement. I won’t bother going into the negative aspects of charity. Everyone can come up with a fairly substantial list by themselves.

I was listening to a podcast called “Clerically Speaking.” The hosts are two priests named Father Harrison and Father Anthony. In Episode 99 of Clerically Speaking, they quoted Society of Saint Paul Father Thomas Fogerty who commented on the current Covid situation. It’s at the podcast starting about at the 11:30 minute mark. Father Thomas said this:

The living of the the family lifestyle, and accepting all of its challenges …

…loss of sleep with infants,

…loss of employment,

…difficult children.

…various illness,

…shortage of funds,

…nasty neighbors,

…grumpy spouses … is more than enough to make a person a saint.”

Read that again.

On January 1, 1967 Pope Paul VI issued the “Apostolic Constitution about Indulgences.” (Indulgentiarum Doctrina). In Chapter 2, Paragraph 5 we read:

Following in the footsteps of Christ, (16) the Christian faithful have always endeavored to help one another on the path leading to the heavenly Father. (They do this) through prayer, the exchange of spiritual goods and penitential expiation.

The more they have been immersed in the fervor of charity, the more they have imitated Christ in his sufferings, carrying their crosses in expiation for their own sins and those of others, certain that they could help their brothers to obtain salvation from God the Father of mercies.(17)

This is the very ancient dogma of the Communion of the Saints,(18) whereby the life of each individual son of God in Christ and through Christ is joined by a wonderful link to the life of all his other Christian brothers in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ till, as it were, a single mystical person is formed.(19)

Thus is explained the “Treasury of the Church” (20) which should certainly not be imagined as the sum total of material goods accumulated in the course of the centuries, but the infinite and inexhaustible value the expiation and the merits of Christ Our Lord have before God, offered as they were so that all of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. It is Christ the Redeemer himself in whom the satisfactions and merits of his redemption exist and find their force. (21) This treasury also includes the truly immense, unfathomable and ever pristine value before God of the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, who following in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have sanctified their lives and fulfilled the mission entrusted to them by the Father. Thus while attaining their own salvation, they have also cooperated in the salvation of their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body.

Everything challenging that you have experienced in the midst of the covid pandemic is not wasted.

Everything noble act that you have done during the pandemic is not wasted.

Everything that you have done with grace and charity has three affects. One is called soteriological. It comes from the Greek word meaning “to save.” As St. Paul says in Colossians 1:24: “Be glad that you suffer in your body, for you are participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for His body, the Church.” What do you do releases grace into the world.

A second effect is eschatological. Eschaton comes from the Greek meaning “the final event in the divine plan.” What you do has an effect on souls in Purgatory.  This is at the heart of Indulgentiarum Doctrina.  Your sacrifices get souls out of Purgatory.

As Clerically Speaking say, what you do also has a sanctifying effect. The Lord does not waste crosses. Any challenges and difficulties that you have faced with a sense of grace are the means by which the Lord gradually makes you holier. In other words turning you into saints.

There is meaning in what you do. There is meaning in this world. There is meaning in the next world.  Pray. Keep working at it.  God will fill in the blanks

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Footnotes:

16. Cf. 1 Peter 2:21.

17. Cf. Col. 1:24. Cf. Clement of Alexandria, Lib. “Quis dives salvetur” 42: “S. Joannes … vicariam dabo” (GCS Clement 3, p. 190; PG 9, 650). Cf. Cyprian, De Lapsis 17, 36: “Credimus quidem…fecerint sacerdotes” (CSEL 3 1, p. 249-250 and 263; PL 4:495 and 508). Cf. Jerome, “Contra Vigilantium” 6: “Dicis in libello…et triumphos?” (PL 23, 359). Cf. Basil the Great, “Homily in martyrem Julittam” 9: “Oportet igitur…dignum est” (PG 31, 258-259). Cf. John Chrysostom, “In epist. ad Philipp.” 1, hom. 3, 3: “Igitur non…mortui fuerint” (PG 62, 203). Cf. Thomas, Summa Theol. 1-2, q. 87, a. 8: “Si loquamur…ab homine.”

18. Cf. Leo XIII, Encyclical Mirae Caritatis: “Nihil est…forma caritas” (Acts of Leo XIII 22, 1902, p. 129; DS 3363).

19. Cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-13. Cf. Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis: “Ita (Christus) in Ecclesia…praedicat Christum” (A.A.S. 35, 1943, p. 218). Cf. Thomas, Summa Theol. 3, q. 48, a. 2 ad I and q. 49, a. 1.

20. Cf. Clement VI, jubilee bull Unigenitus Dei Filius: “Unigenitus Dei…praestare noscuntur…” (DS 1025, 1026, 1027). Cf. Sixtus IV, encyclical “Romani Pontificis”: “…Nos, quibus…afferre cupientes…” (DS 1406). Cf. Leo X, Decree “Cum postquam” to papal legate Cajetan de Vio: “…thesaurum meritorum Jesu Christi et Sanctorum dispensare…(DS 1448; cf. DS 1467 and 2641).

21. Cf. Heb. 7:23-25; 9:11-28.

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