Sunday, January 14, 2018

How St. Remy changed his world; and how you and I can change ours (Sunday homily)

Today we celebrate our patron, Saint Remy. 
His feast day actually falls on January 13, 
but we are able to move it to Sunday. 
Before I came here, I didn’t know anything about Saint Remy – 
or, Remigius, as he would have called himself. 
I suspect many of us don’t know much about him.

As his name suggests, Remigius was a Roman; 
he lived in northern part of the province of Gaul,
in an area near the border between France and Belgium. 
As a boy, Remy was very bright and well read; 
he was renowned for his learning and his holiness. 
When he was 22, he was nominated to be bishop – 
and he wasn’t even a priest!

Remy was born in AD 437. 
He lived at a time when Roman society was falling apart. 
Imagine that: your country is dissolving; 
people with different language and customs and religion 
are taking over.
These new people were the Franks, who came from Germany.
Their king was Clovis. 

How easy it would have been for Bishop Remy to fear
and even hate Clovis. And maybe he would have, 
had St. Remy been mainly about being Roman. 
But instead, Remy was first and foremost a Christian.

You and I are proud to be Americans. 
But our first loyalty is to Christ. 
We would hate ever to have to choose, but it can happen.

Under President Obama, we were put in that position. 
Our government was saying that good Americans 
are in favor of contraception, 
and will help the government distribute them. 
Our government was saying that good Americans 
are in favor of same-sex “marriage” and in the misdirected, 
immoral sexual behavior which that is really about.

And yes, we’ve gotten something of a breather under this President; 
but less has changed than you may think. 
The prevailing values and beliefs of our society, and our government, 
are growing less Christian, and more pagan, every day.

St. Remigius had a choice; he remembered his mission.
He fostered good relations with the Franks. 
He may well have been influenced 
by Saint Paul’s words in the second reading: 
“I have become all things to all, to save at least some.” 

Because Remy made himself available to the Lord, 
not only was King Clovis baptized; 
3,000 other of his cohort were baptized that same day. 
That set the whole kingdom on the path to becoming Catholic; 
and thus the future nation of France.

And that, in turn, played a huge role in all history since.

When you and I think about the changing nature of our society, 
all kinds of reactions can follow:
Discouragement, resignation, fear and anger.

I don’t know if Bishop Remy was ever discouraged. 
He probably was, at times, as are we all.
What we do know is he did not resign himself; he did not retreat.

Again, we don’t know what special challenges 
he and his fellow Christians faced at that time. 
Yet we do know that his main response – his daily plan – 
was really no different from ours.

Whenever we talk about evangelization – 
about sharing our Faith – a lot of people will be intimidated, and say,
“I don’t know what to say! I don’t know what to do!”
It’s not about saying or doing any special thing.
It’s simply about being who you are, 
and sharing yourself with others.

How did Remy win Clovis and his fellow invaders?
It was pretty simple, really. 
He sought them out; he offered friendship.

One of the things that impressed King Clovis 
was the way of life the Christians lived. 
He saw their dedication to prayer and the generous way 
they responded to people’s needs.

Every year around this time, 
we talk about the Catholic Ministries Appeal. 
Remember, this is the way our Archdiocese does the very things 
that so impressed the unbelievers in St. Remy’s time.

This fund helps many who are poor and without resources.
It provides food and utility help for people who need it, as well as
counseling and family assistance through Catholic Social Services. 

Part of it goes to provide for our retired priests. 
Part of it helps with outreach to colleges, prisons and hospitals. 
And a portion of it supports our seminary and our vocation programs.
And all of it – every dollar – stays in our Archdiocese.

I will be traveling next weekend. 
Some parishes will play a recorded message from the Archbishop. 
Here, we’ll put the text of his remarks in the bulletin instead, 
and we’ll talk more about it when I get back.

The Catholic Ministries Appeal is just one of many ways 
you and I can do in a practical way 
what we prayed in today’s psalm: 
“Here we are, Lord. We come to do your will.”

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