Homily: Memorial Mass of Our Lady of Divine Providence
Father Dominic M. Garner, MFVA
Our Lady of the Angels Monastery - 7am Mass
Saturday, week 34 of Ordinary Time - Year II
2 December 2006
Mem. Mass of Our Lady of Divine Providence
Today, on this First Saturday, we honor our Lady by celebrating a votive Mass —Mary, Mother of Divine Providence— to thank God for the Blessed Mother and all the ways she has helped us this year.
Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy ... and that day catch you by surprise like a trap (Luke 21:34).
Today is the last day of the Church year. Tonight at Vespers we start a new liturgical year as we begin the season of Advent and end the Year of Grace 2006. The Lord, in today’s Gospel, tells us that we must be vigilant at all times (Luke 21:36), lest we be caught off guard. If we’re not careful, He says, our hearts could become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life (Luke 21:34). And if our hearts do become drowsy, we very well could be taken by surprise like being caught in a trap. In like manner, St. Paul once wrote, you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief (1 Thess 5:4). Being vigilant means making a constant effort not to be attached to anything but God. As St. John says, do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15). The things in the world, he writes, are the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). St. John of the Cross teaches us that we must, if we are going to grow in our spiritual life and reach a high degree of union with God — he teaches that our senses, passions, imagination, memory, intellect and will all have to be purified. This purification includes not only our active initiative, but also, God’s own purifying action on these same faculties through the Night of the Senses and the Night of the Spirit.
And so, being the end of one year, and the start of another its good to make some resolutions for our own spiritual life and growth, especially at the start of Advent. Advent, with its special graces, is like a spring board for us to jump off into good spiritual-life-detaching-type practices. Here are some examples of resolutions that we might want to consider:
1. Really making a good thanksgiving after each and every Mass — perhaps in reparation for all the disrespect, coldness and indifference shown to Jesus in the Eucharist by so many Catholics. And doing this even when there is intense dryness.
2. Not passing one day without some kind of spiritual reading, unless its absolutely necessary to omit.
3. Studying up and trying to put into more effective practice a different Cardinal Virtue each week of Advent, with the goal of by Christmas to have really struggled to practice more intensely all four of the Cardinal Virtues. And if we don’t know what they are, to find out.
4. Penances or mortifications:
a. Here’s a tough one for most of us — how about when no one else is behind us and we’re not a traffic hazard to anyone — driving one mile per hour under the speed limit for mortification.
b. Or how about when we’re cruisin’ fast and we get behind someone going slow — when we actually have the time, we back off, don’t pass them when we could and go the same speed they are, but further back. Tailgating really does put stress and pressure on some people, especially at night.
c. If there are any people that we are attached to in an unhealthy way, to try and re-evaluate our relationship with that person (or people) and try to rebuild those relationships in the Lord. Perhaps there are friends or family that we use to get an unhealthy emotional fix everyday. Perhaps, without realizing it, we base our sense of worth and self-esteem on their outward disposition towards us. If this is the case, the relationship needs to be re-evaluated. It doesn’t mean we’re now cold to them, but re-adjustment over time.
d. Or how about when we are in a group conversation, allowing the person we have a natural aversion to — allowing them to speak, while keeping quiet, especially when we have something witty or spectacularly impressive to add.
In any event, the most important thing is the mixture of an interior act of love or humility or reparation out of love for God, with these exterior mortifications or penances. May, Mary, the Mother of Divine Providence help us to keep from getting drowsy in the spiritual life.
Navarre Bible: St. Luke