Fr. Brown’s Homily, Alumni Day 2016

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St. Mary’s Seminary & University
Alumni Days 2016

Homily
Alumni Day Mass
Thursday, October 20
Chapel of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

Has anyone ever come up to you and said “Father, do you remember the homily you gave about courage (or whatever) three years ago? What you said really touched me; it changed my life.” And you can hardly remember the homily, much less what you said that could have changed someone’s life. But didn’t you know that you were able to accomplish far more than all you could ask or imagine, by the power at work within you?

Or did anyone every say to you, “Father, I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that you were so caring and consoling when my mother died. I don’t know how I ever could have gotten through it without your support; and it meant so much to mom that you came to visit her and anoint her before she died.” You remember doing your best to be consoling, but you barely remember anointing her mother, you anoint so many people in the course of a year. You do your best to be a consoling presence at such times, and you hope that is always the case – – – there are so many people that you have to attend to. But to have had that kind of impact – you just don’t remember experiencing it yourself that powerfully. But didn’t you know that you are able to accomplish far more than all you could ask or imagine, by the power at work within you?

And that wedding rehearsal with the mother of the bride from . . . . well, you from where. But the couple keeps getting in touch and wanting to get together from time to time, and keeps telling you how much a part of their lives you became because you were so good to them at the wedding. And even the mother of the bride never fails to tell you how special you made the day. But you know how hard it can be for weddings to be anything other than “just another wedding.” But didn’t you know that you are able to accomplish far more than all you could ask or imagine, by the power at work within you?

And baptisms – how many baptisms have you done, or does a priest do over the course of his ministerial life.  There are so many; and yet each every one is so special. Just think of what we do when we baptize a baby – or any person: We open a door to eternal life; we make someone a member of the Church; a part of the Body of Christ on earth. How much more that is than all we could ask or imagine?

Acedia, spiritual dryness or apathy, is the occupational hazard of priests and others who engage in pastoral ministry; indeed of anyone who sincerely tries to live the spiritual life and serve others over the long hall. But just think of what it is that we do – of what we have dedicated our lives to, we priests and others who seek to pour their lives out in service of others. We bring to others the consolations of Christ, his encouragement to persevere, his joy and celebration at the joyful moments of peoples’ lives, his forgiveness to those who need forgiveness, His own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, salvation and eternal life. We accomplish far more than all we could ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, even when we aren’t experiencing it that way; even in times of acedia when it risks feeling like “it’s just my job,” or here we go, another wedding, another baptism, another Mass. But of course it’s never just another wedding, another baptism or another Mass: for everyone who participates it’s a unique event; a moment that touches eternity.

For those of us in ordained ministry, this privileged vocation and that mysterious power that begins to work within us at baptism is unleashed in a special way here during our time of formation in the seminary and at ordination. For others who persevere in lives of service, it grows in power through the power of baptism. It is good that we come back from time to time to get back in touch with that special time and that foundational experience that seminary is. Thank you all again for coming this year, for being here for St. Mary’s Alumni Days 2016. I hope that your presence here these days proves to be that kind of renewing experience. I hope you’re having a good time, and that you enjoy the luncheon and award ceremony that will follow Mass. It’s good to get together as alumni from time to time; it’s so good to be together.

May God give us great joy and great consolation in our ministries. May we learn to take moments to savor the privilege and the deeply humbling satisfactions come from what we have been called to, and may we continue to give thanks to God daily for the great privilege of what we have been called to. May we be ever aware that we are daily accomplishing through our ministry far more than all we could ask or imagine by the power at work within us.