Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hopeful homily from Mount Angel Abbey

I won't be posting a Sunday homily this week or next. I am just finishing a week of retreat and reflection at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon's beautiful Willamette Valley, and next weekend will be in Quebec City for a few days of holiday after the annual general meeting of the board of Catholic Christian Outreach in Ottawa.

But last week I heard a beautiful short homily from my old friend Father Paschal Cheline, OSB, and it is worth sharing here with his kind permission.

The readings on Friday were the prophet Ezekiel's stirring vision of the valley of dry bones, and the Gospel gave us Christ's teaching about the two greatest commandments, "You shall love the Lord your God with all all your heart... And your neighbor as yourself." From these texts, on the feast of the great reformer Bernard of Clairvaux, Father Paschal drew these simple but inspiring thoughts, particularly relevant in trying times for the Church:

My brothers and sisters in the Faith,

The scene is well known because of the great Negro spiritual: the dry bones on the plain come together and the Spirit of life comes into them. A people is renewed and restored by the power of God and the obedience of the prophet Ezekiel.

The scene is an image of the Church--often predicted to be dying or dead, and certainly to be ineffective. The Church, however, governed by the law of love of God and neighbor, as Jesus said, will always be renewed and reformed by the Spirit. New life and new energy will keep the Church a force for the building of the Kingdom of God among us, for the salvation of souls and for the unity of all peoples.

Ezekiel's image of the dry bones coming to life renews our hope in the Church and calls us--each of us--to be alive in the Spirit and to live the Gospel: to love God and our neighbor in sincerity and truth.

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