for Anne Marie Johnson—in a Haitian hospital with pneumonia.
for Alfie Evans, 14 Months old ,
another hostage of socialized medicine in Britain.
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
“Put on the
new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.”
Were today not Sunday, we would be observing the feast
of Saint Teresa of Ávila, a 16th century Carmelite nun who spent much of her
life trying to get Carmelite men and women to go back to the severely
ascetic customs observed by their Order before the Moslem invasion of the
Holy Land and consequent loss of their primitive dwellings on Mount Carmel.
Teresa recognized that while the modern Carmelite Rule was more practical
for living in the Western Cities of Europe, the ancient rule was much more
conducive to the salvation of monks and nuns, and offered far better example
to the lay people who sought spiritual guidance from them.
As traditional Catholics
we recognize that Saint Teresa was offering her people a
to the “way things used to be,” a return to the
time when we were all holier,
when we gracefully accepted our difficulties an sufferings, and when we gave
the good example of holiness to all those around us.
This past week I brought Holy Communion to a man in his
nineties –with severe medical problems—who lamented his relatively “minor
contribution” to society—“why am I alive at 96 while far more important and
productive people die at 70 or 80?”he asked. The man in question recently
celebrated his 75th wedding anniversary with his lovely wife, and has raised
four children who are trying to remain Catholics, and who are concerned for
In today’s world of easy divorce and often absent
children, our man’s acceptance of suffering, the raising of his children,
and his fidelity in marriage represent an almost extreme example of
conversion to the way things were and to the way they ought to be. If a few
families notice and convert to this family’s example, our 96 year old will
have made a very significant contribution, indeed.
The story of Christianity is always a story of
conversion—a story of “putting on the new man.” Apart from Jesus and Mary,
no one is born in the state of holiness—we all are born in the original sin
of Adam and Eve—and somehow, most of us find it easier to acquire habits of
sin rather than habits of holiness. But even if we don't persevere in our
baptismal innocence, our Lord has given us the opportunity to renew that
innocence through Sacramental Confession. At least once a week (more often
if you but ask) you have the opportunity for “conversion” from the sins of
the past week in the Sacrament of Confession.
The epistle refers to “putting on the new man” while
the Gospel uses the metaphor of putting on a “wedding garment.”
It helps to understand the Gospel if we understand the customs of dress in
the Mediterranean culture around the time of Christ. People wore a long
linen tunic very much like the alb which the priest wears underneath the
colored vestments. Like the alb, it was girded at the waste with a cincture
(a piece of rope). If the person went into the fields, the alb could be
pulled up inside the cincture and bloused over it in order to avoid getting
it caught on whatever was growing in the field. The white linen was
comfortable for daytime wear, but in many places a long shawl was added over
the shoulders in the evening. The more affluent members of society, who
were in the habit of hosting dinner parties, had a closet with such shawls
for their guests to wear during the festivities.
So the man found not to be wearing a wedding garment
had no excuse. If he followed proper etiquette, he would have just borrowed
one from the host's closet, and would have fit in with the other guests.
His refusal to put on the garment should remind us of the insult we give to
our Lord when we come to Mass without the “garment” of sanctifying grace
which our Lord offers us at no charge at all.
You have probably heard me say that people should dress
well for Mass—at least as well as you would dress for dinner at the
Governor's Mansion or the White House. But it is far more important to be
wearing the “garment” of sanctifying grace! This is mandatory if you are to
receive Holy Communion—but it is the right way to dispose yourself for any
and all forms of prayer. Indeed, since we never know when it will be time
for us to meet our Maker, we should make the effort to live continuously in
the state of grace.
It is often said that converts to the Faith make the
best Catholics. After all, they often must go to great
lengths—intellectually and socially—to become Catholics. But I am
suggesting to you today that all of us must think of our selves as converts.
We should become scrupulous about remaining in the state of grace, without
regard to the intellectual and social efforts it may require.
Become a “convert.” Put on the “new man,” or the “new
woman” if that is applicable. Wear continuously the “wedding garment” of