Sunday, January 19, 2020

How St. Remigius changed the world -- and you can, too! (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 of present-day 
France, Belgium and Germany; 
an area where many of the first settlers of this community came from.

As a boy, Remy was 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. 
The once-mighty Roman Empire 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 done so, 
had Remigius 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.

Can anyone doubt that the prevailing values and beliefs 
of our society are growing less Christian, and more pagan, every day?
We’re facing very much the situation St. Remy faced.

Bishop 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 soldiers were also baptized. 
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. 
What we do know is he did not retreat.

And even though his world and its challenges 
were very different from ours, 
his main response – his daily plan – was pretty much the same.

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 how much you know, or memorizing certain phrases;
That’s what many of our fellow Christians do.
They tell their folks, memorize these scriptures or these arguments, 
and now go knock on people’s doors.

But Catholic evangelization is different.

That window, by the way, depicts St. Remy baptizing Clovis.
Behind King Clovis is his wife, St. Clotilda.
How did Bishop Remigius win Clovis and his fellow invaders?
There is no secret formula. It’s fairly straightforward.

First, Remy sought Clovis out. He offered friendship.

Second, what impressed King Clovis 
was not just words, but the way of life the Christians lived. 
In other words, the best tool for sharing our faith,
And helping others to find faith, 
is what they see in how you and I live our faith.

And, third, Clovis saw how generous Catholics were in helping others.

Every year around this time, 
we talk about the Catholic Ministries Appeal. 
This is one way our Archdiocese does today 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. 
I regularly refer people to 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.

You’ve always been generous to the Catholic Ministry Appeal.
Just a reminder: when we go beyond the goal set for our parish,
A portion of that comes back here to help pay for
our youth and religious education programs.

I think it’s safe to say that our times are not calm and boring!
Our society is changing rapidly, and we can either be worried,
Or we can, like our patron, St. Remy, be confident 
that our Lord Jesus Christ, who is King of all hearts, 
of all time and space, will use us to bring his Kingdom forward.

St. Remy planted seeds that grew in fantastic ways.
A lot of us here are descendants of those very people, 
in that corner of France, that Remy baptized! 
You have faith, today, because he led them to faith –
And, it was then faithfully passed down.

That’s our task today. Saint Remy…pray for us!

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