Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Priesthood Anniversary Mass 9/20/21

 Video of the Homily: HOMILY

Fr. Nic Wilson from the Catholic Diocese of Peoria gives the Homily at the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Priesthood Anniversary Mass on 9/20/21.

Text from the homily: 

At times, newly ordained priests can be a bit overzealous. Sometimes they act like they know everything. They can be quite naïve. I confess – that’s described me plenty in the past four months since I was first ordained. But if I may say a word in our defense, it’s because the newly ordained really do have living hearts, hearts that are burning with love, that desire others to know the living God in prayer, hearts that are willing to put it all on the line and die for love of God and his Church.

            Certainly, when Fulton Sheen lay prostrate here in St. Mary’s Cathedral 102 years ago, he had that living, burning, bleeding heart. And certainly too, like every newly ordained, his newly ordained heart needed to have its fire channeled and matured. He himself acknowledge this, writing that being ordained a priest is only half the story “In due time, and not in an easy way, I was to learn that a priest is also a victim.” Suffering, purifying suffering is necessary. But how does one undergo the necessary suffering without being crushed? Without love growing cold in the face of difficulty. How did Fulton Sheen preserve the joy of the newly ordained after suffering exile from some of the places he loved most, after seeing the world that welcomed him on the television screen turn its back on Christendom? I think this was the answer - simply – there was the hour that made his day and the woman he loved.

            First – the hour that made his day. The Holy Hour. That time of intentional communion spent heart to heart with Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament. It was in this time that Fulton Sheen heard that voice that calls to a daily death. “Unless you take up your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Fulton Sheen knew that the Holy Hour well-made is one that gives the courage to die, not for pragmatic purposes or even principles, but for a person, for the Lord, whose voice resounds in the depths of the soul.

            Second – the woman he loved. From the Blessed Virgin Mary, from her pierced and Immaculate Heart, he learned to suffer well. He wrote: “If the Lord called her, who deserved no pain, to stand at the foot of the cross, why should he not call me? If I had expressed a love for her as the mother of the priesthood, why should she not, in maternal love, make me more like her son by forcing me to become a victim?” United to her heart, he learned to suffer, and he could bear the suffering because of her love. He wrote: “She changes eros to agape, the water of my life into wine, and helps provide those tears to wipe blood from wounds that gaped on the cross. In my mind's eye I have gazed on her beauty, a beauty which leaves all other beauty plain. My heart thrilled a thousand times at her gentle hand’s caress, knowing full well that she was content with the little I had to give, for at the cross she took the son of Zebedee as a son for the Son of God. After many years of courtship, the deep conviction pervades my soul: she really loves me - and if she can love me then Christ is with me.”

            The Holy Hour and the Blessed Virgin Mary – two pillars that guarded the treasure in the clay of Fulton Sheen’s newly ordained heart, that matured it and preserved it, that made it the light to the world that it was – the priestly heart of a loyal son of the Church, blazing with love – to write and speak well of the Lord Jesus. May our hearts be made like His today and always. God love you.