Sunday, October 16, 2005

'Called, anointed & sent' (Sunday homily)

Our first reading talks about
being called, anointed, and sent.

Later today, I’m going to meet with
our 8th graders preparing for
the sacrament of confirmation:

“Called, anointed, and sent”:
sounds like a good summary
of what confirmation is about.

But that applies to all of us as a parish.
We are all called, anointed, and sent.

Next week, as I hope you know,
we’re going to celebrate a very special event.
This is the 150th year of our parish.
Next Sunday we commemorate that anniversary.

And, as I hope you’ve heard by now,
part of that celebration will be
to consecrate a new altar.

Let me explain just what’s going to happen.

I know you can’t see into
this north sacristy,but there is a cut,
polished slab of marble here.

Next week at about this time, after this Mass,
we will take this piece of marble,
which is slightly larger
than the surface of this altar,
and set it on the top of this altar.
It will be a permanent addition.

Then, during the Mass at 3 PM that day,
the Archbishop will consecrate this
as a new altar—
because it has a new, stone surface.

Now, why stone?
Because the altar is a place of sacrifice:
altars in the Scriptures
were always made of stone;
so the Church, while allowing altars of wood,
such as this beautiful altar,
encourages the use of at least some stone.

So, I believed a new,
stone surface on this altar
would be a beautiful
and lasting addition to our church,
to mark 150 years behind us;
and a pledge to our future!

When the Archbishop consecrates
the new altar, he prays,
calling the Spirit down upon the altar,
and then he will pour chrism—
the same blessed,
fragrant oil used for baptisms,
confirmations and ordinations—
onto the altar, anointing it.

That’s when the lights will go on;
all the candles will be lit—
because then we have an altar:
that altar, where the Sacrifice of the Eucharist
is offered to heaven, and shared with us—
that is what makes this a Catholic church.

The anointing of the altar stands for
the anointing on each of us, and on our parish!

God has called and consecrated us:
sent us here, to Piqua—why? To do what?

Just what Paul told us in the second reading:
to share the hope we have in Jesus Christ;
sharing the Gospel not “in word alone,
but also in power and in the Holy Spirit
and with much conviction.”

This 150th Anniversary of our parish
is not about looking backward, or inward;
but about looking up: to God;
looking out: to our community;
and looking forward: to our future!

In the short time I’ve been your pastor,
one question several have raised is this:
“Father, what’s our future as a parish?”

Let me say this:
I’m not going to decide that: you will!

I know we’ve had a lot of change
in recent years,
and we know there will be more changes,
as the parishes in this area—
St. Mary’s, St. Theresa, and St. Boniface—
work more closely together.
Right now, we have five priests between us,
but that won’t always be true.

This is a reminder of how urgent it is
that we all pray for, and encourage,
more men to become priests.
As we go forward,
you’re going to hear more from me about that.

But look at our beautiful church,
which I know you love so much.
It is 140 years old this year.
The parish is 150:
this church was dedicated on October 26, 1865,
Ten years after this parish was founded,
in 1855.

Now think what was happening in 1865:
the bloodiest war in American history,
the War Between the States,
was grinding to a close.

Down in Cincinnati,
they postponed the building
of the Suspension Bridge.

But the people of this parish
did not postpone
the building of this church!
Do you think they had hope and conviction
in the power of the Holy Spirit?

I think they did! I think the knew they were
Called, anointed and sent!

So what is our future?
I’ll say it again—you will decide that!
But I believe it is as solid and permanent
as the stone altar we’ll consecrate here,
next week!

Because you and I are
called, anointed, and sent!

1 comment:

MrsDarwin said...

Congratulations to your parish! That's a lovely sermon. May your new altar stand for many more anniversaries.