Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lauda Sion! Corpus Christi 2011

Laud, O Zion, your salvation, Laud with hymns of exultation,
Christ, your king and shepherd true:
Bring him all the praise you know, He is more than you bestow,
Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving Is the quick'ning and the living
Bread today before you set:
From his hands of old partaken, As we know, by faith unshaken,
Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting, Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,
From your heart let praises burst:
For today the feast is holden, When the institution olden
Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new law's new oblation, By the new king's revelation,
Ends the form of ancient rite:
Now the new the old effaces, Truth away the shadow chases,
Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated, Christ ordained to be repeated,
His memorial ne'er to cease:
And his rule for guidance taking, Bread and wine we hallow,
making Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns, Bread into his flesh he turns,
To his precious blood the wine:
Sight has fail'd, nor thought conceives, But a dauntless faith believes,
Resting on a pow'r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden Priceless things to sense forbidden;
Sign, not things are all we see:
Blood is poured and flesh is broken, Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes, Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;
Christ is whole to all that taste:
Thousands are, as one, receivers, One, as thousands of believers,
Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing, Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.
Life to these, to those damnation, See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken, Doubt not, but believe 'tis spoken,
That each sever'd outward token doth the very whole contain.
Naught the precious gift divides, Breaking but the sign betides
Jesus still the same abides, still unbroken does remain.

Lo! the angel's food is given To the pilgrim who has striven;
See the children's bread from heaven, which on dogs may not be spent.
Truth the ancient types fulfilling, Isaac bound, a victim willing,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling, manna to the fathers sent.

Very bread, good shepherd, tend us, Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us, Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

You who all things can and know, Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav'nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be.

Amen. Alleluia.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Homily Pentecost 2011
Fr. Paul D. Williams, Jr.
Special thanks to Padre Francisco Fernández-Carvajal

Jesus would speak of the Holy Spirit as a “wind which blows where it wills”. Therefore, the Saint is like a ship with its sails unfurled, attentive to the blowing of the gentle breeze and going where it leads.

When we are docile to these inspirations of the Holy Spirit, we become, to use another analogy from Jesus, that good tree which is known by its fruits. These fruits enrich our lives and are manifestations of the glory of God, as Jesus said at the Last Supper: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit.”

These supernatural fruits are countless. St Paul offers us twelve fruits to meditate on, which have become the fruits listed in the Tradition of the Church, the result of the Seven Gifts which the Holy Spirit has infused in our soul through baptism. They are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.

First is love or charity, the first sign of our union with Christ. This is the most excellent of these fruits, making us feel the loving presence of God, always close, and motivating us to ease the burdens others carry. This is the first sign of the action of the Holy Spirit in us: an active charity towards those around us. St John Chrysostom: “There is no sign or mark which distinguishes the Christian and the lover of Christ greater than the care of our brothers and sisters and zeal for the salvation of souls.”

This first and chief fruit of the Holy Spirit is, as St Thomas says, “followed necessarily by joy, since the lover rejoices in union with his beloved.” Joy is the result of love; therefore a faithful Christian is distinguished by joy, and this joy persists through sorrow and failure. Joy can bring great good to the world, as we sing in our hymns, “Joy to the World” as Christ comes into the world through his people. As one spiritual writer puts it, “To rejoice under trial, to smile in sufferings..., to sing in our heart ever more clearly, the longer and sharper the thorns.., and all this for the sake of love.., this is, together with love, the fruit that the divine Vinedresser wishes to gather from the branches of the mystic Vine. These are fruits which only the Holy Spirit can produce in us.”

Love and joy give us what St. Paul calls, “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.” St Augustine defines it as tranquility in order. There is a false peace based on disorder, which comes about when we don't want to “rock the boat”, a “let's don't make it worse” attitude, which some see as the only option, but doesn't address the root of a disorder.

Peace, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is the absence of unrest, where the mind and will are at repose, content in knowing and living the good. It requires a continual battle against our own disordered tendencies so that this peace is transparent to others.

Only in heaven shall we find the fulness of love, joy and peace. But we can experience a foretaste of it now if we are open to the Holy Spirit and faithful. We do enjoy these fruits now, and the taste of them is sweeter than anything this world offers, but it is only a foreshadowing of what awaits us. And this is where the fruit of patience comes in. Patience is serenity without complaint or protest in the face of the physical and moral sufferings which we experience in life.

Many people tell me, “Father, I am too impatient, how can I be more patient?” Well, Charity is full of patience and patience is frequently what supports love. So the simple answer is: love more. When duties are no longer an imposed obligation but a loving desire to work for the good of others, then patience naturally follows.

Related to patience is another fruit called longanimity, which is calmness in the face of suffering and adversity; when we are without complaint or bitterness for as long as God wishes, certaint that he is true to his promises and that the rewards will come sooner or later. No importance the length of the wait, more important is the certainty in the waiting. As St. Paul would say: “in hope, we wait with endurance.” That is patience and longanimity or forebearance.

Many fruits are directly related to love of neighbor. Goodness makes us desire the good of others without distinction, not just for those we love, but also for those who may make life difficult for us. Kindness is that desire in action. If you encounter a person who is irritable and cranky, maybe they are just having a terrible day, and you can make it better for them with a kind smile or word, compassionate and understanding. And if they’re just that way by nature, it has not harmed you to return kindness for crankiness. Desiring the good for others also frees us from jealousy or envy. To allow these fruits to flourish, start with the knowledge that all those you meet are children of God whom He loves and for whom Christ died on the Cross. Generosity naturally follows.

Gentleness is united to goodness, a characteristic of Charity, in that Charity is not irritable or resentful, prone to anger or harmful outbursts. A gentle person does not harbor resentments for perceived offenses or insults from others.

Faithfulness follows gentleness. A faithful person fulfills their duties, large and small, and enjoys the trust of others. A faithful person is dependable. As Sacred Scripture says: “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.” A faithful person lives goodness and justice and charity.

The last fruits refer to the virtue of temperance. A modest person behaves serenely and properly in each situation. A modest person appreciates the talents he or she has, but does not magnify or minimize them, recognizing all is a gift from God meant for the service of others. As a fruit of the Holy Spirit, it is manifest in ones speech and dress, and it is attractive because it manifests simplicity and inner order.

Finally, Self-Control and Chastity. These fruits give beauty to the Christian life and helps one to see God present in all things and lift one up from a carnal view of the world. After all, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” These fruits give us strength in the face of worldly temptations, and God’s grace is always sufficient.

On this Pentecost Sunday we have the great privilege of gathering as the early Church did, with Mary, in prayer, praying for the outpouring of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so that we might enjoy those fruits eternally in Heaven.