Saturday, November 26, 2011

At Mass, Actions Can Speak as Loud as Words

Today is Grey Cup Sunday, but in this parish we're not offering prayers for either team. We have to balance our loyalty to the home team with the fact that the grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins of one of the Blue Bombers are all parishioners here at Christ the Redeemer.

I must say that it's a shame the big game is being played on such a wet day. This morning a football fan from out of town asked a young boy outside of BC Place if it ever stopped raining in Vancouver. "I don't know," the lad replied. "I'm only five."

Of course the Grey Cup is not the most important thing happening on November 27, 2011. Today is both the First Sunday of Advent and the day we start to use the new English translation of the Mass.

We've talked a lot about the change, but soon enough we'll take it for granted and hardly notice. Some might say that's just what we should hope for, but I disagree. To me, the new Missal demands some fresh thinking about the Mass and how we take part in it.

Happily, this first Sunday of Advent is the perfect time to take stock of our spiritual lives, which should be centered on the Eucharist. While a tired young parent or a weary teen might sometimes nod off during the homily, there are many more of us who have become spiritual sleepyheads with our eyes wide open.

We're dozing spiritually if we come to Mass without passion. If we participate without focus. And whenever we pray without enthusiasm.

That can't be what Jesus wanted when He gave us the gift of His Body and Blood. Do you daydream through Mass, at least some of the time? Then listen carefully to just two words from today's Gospel: Keep awake.

Jesus is talking about the Second Coming. But he's also referring to our daily spiritual life; we need to be wakeful and alert, especially at Mass, where the Lord comes to meet us. Otherwise we may be napping as he passes by.

Think of the excellent wake-up call we're getting from the new translation! We've got no choice but to slow down and focus on the words we're saying, since they're no longer that familiar. So why not turn the awkwardness of using printed cards into a new mindfulness of what we're saying?

And words aren't the whole story. Any teacher can tell when a student is keen and alert. They sit up straight. Their body language says "I want to learn." The same is true of all our postures at church. From the Sign of the Cross we make at the beginning, to the genuflection we make as we leave, our body language says whether we're dozing off or diving in.

Posture reveals what's going on inside us, but it also helps shape it. If I pray slumped in an armchair, I won't likely pray as well as I do in a more alert posture.

A lot of what I'm saying today is just common sense. In human relationships, we know the difference between a firm handshake and a limp one. How do you feel when someone looks you straight in the eye and says "I'm very pleased to meet you"? Not the same as when someone mumbles, "Oh, uh, hi" while looking over your shoulder.

When parents tell kids to stand up straight, it's not just so they'll look good to others. It also affects how they feel about themselves.

So it should be clear that how and when we sit, stand, kneel and bow at Mass can make a big difference. The changes in posture today are minor, but they still invite us to think. From today on we'll all bow during the Creed at the words to show our profound faith in the Incarnation. We'll stand at the "Pray brothers and sisters that my sacrifice and yours…". That's a chance to pray with new intensity that the Lord will accept our sacrifice.

Until now, some people have knelt and others have stood at the "Behold the Lamb of God." Having one common practice will speak loudly about our unity in faith and prayer.

A slight bow of the head at Holy Communion will help us to focus on Jesus. This act of reverence before we receive the Body of Christ will strengthen those who haven't been doing it before. And now the whole community will join those who were already bowing.

Anyone who might prefer making another sign of reverence—like kneeling or making the sign of the cross—will now show their oneness with others and obedience to the Church by making the change.

You can tell from what I'm saying that posture is significant in two ways. It's personal—it shows outside what's happening inside. But it's also public—common posture shows unity with one another when we gather for the liturgy; we're one body in Christ.

In today's second reading, St. Paul rejoices in God's gifts to the Christians at Corinth. Later on he has some complaints, but he starts his first letter with thanks to God for the grace and spiritual blessings He has given to the members of the community.

But Paul knows there's always more. The apostle thanks God for what the Corinthians have, but in the same breath he also asks God to continue His work with them.

Christ the Redeemer parish has been celebrating the liturgy well: we've avoided liturgical mistakes, we've taken music seriously; we have well-trained lectors and servers, devoted people who care for the altar and the church, and a warm ministry of greeters and hospitality. But there's always more.

So let's be alert to what God wants to give our parish; let's stay awake and welcome His coming by participating fully at Mass—which, need I add—starts with arriving on time and finding a seat.

Only in heaven will we experience the wedding feast of the Lamb fully. On earth we just catch a glimpse. But God wants that glimpse to bring us closer to His heart Sunday after Sunday; he wants the Mass to nourish our souls, heal our wounds, and prepare us for eternity. He wants, in a word, to meet us here.

The word of God we've heard today ought to awaken us to a fresh encounter with the God who comes. No ear has heard, no eye has seen, all that He offers us in the Mass. There's always more.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Major Announcement on Our Parish Feast Day

What was the best homily Jesus ever preached? I think most priests would say his teaching on the Bread of Life, or his words of farewell to the apostles, both in the Gospel of John.

But I think the Our Lord's best homily might well be his shortest. (Even priests sometimes like a short homily!) We find it in the fourth chapter of Luke's Gospel, and it's just one sentence: "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

My homily today won't be as short, and my words won't be a self-fulfilling prophecy like those words of Jesus. But I will begin with them, and try to show you how today's Gospel is being fulfilled in our parish, by our parishioners, at this very moment.

At first glance, the Gospel we've just heard seems far distant from 599 Keith Road in West Vancouver. For one thing, Jesus is talking about the Last Judgment. For another thing, he's talking about the starving, the naked, and prisoners. We have no naked in West Vancouver—it's against local bylaws. And if you're starving, there are all kinds of soup kitchens, just over the bridge.

And don't try building a prison in one of Canada's wealthiest neighborhoods. "Occupy Vancouver" would be kid stuff by comparison to the protests we'd have.

So how can I possibly stand here and tell you that 'today this scripture is being fulfilled in this parish'?

Before I answer that, I'd first better make one important point: this Gospel text isn't being completely fulfilled today—if it were, the Lord would be sitting on His throne before us, and the sheep would be here and the goats there.

But the fact is that the members of our parish community, as subjects of Christ the King, have decided to obey his command to the letter. And so, on our feast day, I am announcing that the parish has signed an agreement with the Government of Canada to sponsor a family of Iraqi refugees.

This decision was taken over many months by the parish pastoral council, with the support and approval of the parish finance council. It was taken with considerable courage, since our current financial situation shows a small deficit, and the commitment we have made is substantial and binding.

By the way, our government takes the sponsor's obligations very seriously. I had to sign a form saying I was not currently detained in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison. It also asked whether I'd been convicted of murder. (I'm not making this up!)

When the possibility of sponsoring a family first came up, the immigration department asked how large a family we'd be willing to sponsor. So I asked the councils for advice. Their answer: as big a family as they could find. As it turned out, we were assigned a family of five: father, mother, a son aged 16, and two daughters aged 10 and 5.

The Shaboo family are Iraqi Christians. As many of you know, Christians in Iraq have been harshly persecuted; when I was in Rome, I attended a funeral Mass for a young priest who had studied there and who had been murdered on the side of the road in Iraq together with three others. (Thanks to my friend Rob's comment below, you can read the story here.)

They are truly naked—exposed to their enemies. Unlike even the poorest of Canada's poor, they desperately need to be taken in; they need to be liberated from the benevolent prison of the refugee camp. They need, in a word, the help of those whom the Just Judge calls "the righteous."

Some of you will simply rejoice that our parish has taken to heart those timeless words "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me." You'll be the first to get involved with our resettlement committee, which will need many generous people to assist the Shaboo family when they arrive sometime in the New Year.

But others might say "who me?" Is belonging to a generous parish enough to get me a spot with the sheep?

To answer this, we must first talk about what a parish is. Is it simply an association of people? In his apostolic exhortation on the vocation and mission of the lay faithful, Blessed John Paul says simply that the parish is where you find the Church—that's Church with a capital "c."

The parish, he writes in this document (known by its Latin title Christifideles Laici), is the "place where the very 'mystery' of the Church is present and at work." It's "not principally a structure, a territory, or a building, but rather, 'the family of God, a fellowship afire with a unifying spirit,' 'a familial and welcoming home.'"

From this it follows that the parish has a mission, and that we can—and must—carry it on together.

Here's what the late Holy Father says on that score: "Church communion, already present and at work in the activities of the individual, finds its specific expression in the lay faithful's working together in groups, that is, in activities done with others in the course of their responsible participation in the life and mission of the Church."

In other words, when we work together on our common mission, the very nature of the Church as communion is more clearly visible.

And we see something else about the Church when the parish works together: without the activity of the lay faithful, the apostolate of their pastors "is generally unable to achieve its full effectiveness," as we read in one of the documents of Vatican II. Without the active participation of parishioners, all the money in the world would not be enough to meet our sponsorship obligations to the Shaboo family, who will need to be welcomed, not just sheltered, clothed and fed.

They'll need help shopping and job-hunting; they'll need baby-sitters and tutors; they'll need movers and handymen. In fact, the one thing they won't need from our parish is priests—like most Iraqi Christians, they belong to the Chaldean rite of the Catholic Church, which has its own priest here.

I truly wanted to follow our Lord's example and give a short homily today. I ended up following Pope John Paul's instead—I don't think he ever gave a short homily. Once I started reflecting on what he had to say in Christifideles Laici, I just didn't know where to stop. He completely connects the dots between our parish sponsoring the Shaboos and the calling we have as individual Christians.

Blessed John Paul writes that "The lay faithful ought to be ever more convinced of the special meaning that their commitment to the apostolate takes on in their parish."

"Ever more convinced." In other words, there's something extra-special about making the parish your base for service of the poor. John Paul quotes Vatican II to make this point: "The parish offers an outstanding example of the apostolate on the community level, inasmuch as it brings together the many human differences found within its boundaries and draws them into the universality of the Church." (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 10)

He continues "The lay faithful should accustom themselves to working in the parish in close union with their priests, bringing to the Church community their own and the world's problems…"

And he concludes: "As far as possible the lay faithful ought to collaborate in every apostolic and missionary undertaking sponsored by [their parish]."

Let me conclude: today's Gospel is being fulfilled in our parish. The King's commands are already obeyed with joy and zeal by the dedicated members of the parish conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. And when Faris, Lilyan, Yousif, Rita and Maryam get off the plane, and our parish community greets them as brothers and sisters of the King of Kings, we will be that much closer to hearing those words "come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."


Saturday, November 12, 2011

‘Permanent Truths’ at Jeremy and Kelly’s Wedding Mass

The late William Barclay, a great scripture scholar, estimated that Jesus produced something like 180 gallons or 818 litres of wine at the wedding feast of Cana. He added that no wedding party on earth could drink that much wine. Well, Professor Barclay was a Scots Presbyterian, and probably never imagined the size of a Prairie wedding!

But the point he makes is beyond dispute. This is no ordinary miracle; it is much, much more than an act of kindness to an embarrassed host. Jesus did something he fully intended to surprise and delight us two thousand years later.

And he intends this sign to surprise and delight us today.

It might seem obvious for Kelly and Jeremy to choose to hear a story about a wedding at their wedding; and if you know Jeremy, it might also be obvious why he liked a story about good wine. But if you know them both, you will recognize their choice as anything but obvious. They have chosen to put the sign of Cana in front of us today as a statement of faith and hope.

Today Jeremy and Kelly invite us to forget their own wedding for a moment, and take a trip back to that small village of Cana.

Lovely things are happening there: we learn that Jesus is no killjoy, that he liked a party, and that he had a delicate concern for people's feelings. He also believed in keeping his mother happy.

(I should mention, by the way, that the words "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me" are not as awkward as they sound to us. In their language, Jesus was speaking to Mary in a perfectly respectful way; he addresses her lovingly as "Woman" even from the Cross.)

But planted right in the midst of this joyful event—and weddings were certainly the high point of social life for the poor and often-oppressed Jews in Palestine—we find permanent truths.

Today, Kelly and Jeremy declare their faith in enduring truths about marriage and, even more importantly, about Christ himself, for it was at Cana that he first showed his glory; it was there, as Professor Barclay says, that his disciples caught a dazzling glimpse of what he was.

Let's look first at what the sign at Cana tells us about marriage. We know from St. Paul that marriage is a sign of the loving union between Christ and his bride the Church. But Cardinal Marc Ouellet takes this a step further: he says that marriage is a sign of the union between the Creator and his creatures.

In his remarkable book Divine Likeness, the Cardinal tells us that the wine at Cana, and the exhilarated apostles who drank it, symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit. And that presence of the Spirit is connected to the nuptial union between God and humanity.

In other words, Christian marriage both symbolizes and proceeds from the covenant God made with humanity in Christ.

The Cardinal even says that the sign at Cana is a key for reading all Christ's other signs, since it elevates human marriage to a symbol of the eventual fulfillment of all creation in the Kingdom of God.

Jeremy and Kelly, your union today is rooted in what we learn from the Old Testament in the Book of Genesis: that you were created in the image and likeness of God. Your marriage wonderfully participates in his original plan for creation. But it's also rooted in the New Testament truth that Jesus revealed at the wedding feast of Cana: it is a sacrament through which you participate in the spousal love of Christ and the Church.

Before such lofty theological heights make us dizzy, let's head back to the humble home at which the wedding of Cana was celebrated. At Cana Jesus chose to do the first of his many signs. Why? What does that tell us about him?

William Barclay offers a wonderful answer drawn from the words Jesus speaks to Mary: "My hour has not yet come."

All through the Gospels we find Jesus speaking about "his hour." In one place it is the hour of his emergence as the Messiah; most frequently it is the hour of his suffering and death. By speaking of his "hour," Jesus makes it clear that what happened at Cana was much more than a divine act of human kindness: it was part and parcel of the mission he received from his Father.

"All through his life," Professor Barclay writes, "Jesus knew that he had come into this world for a definite purpose. He saw his life not in terms of his wishes, but in terms of God's purpose for himself."

Kelly and Jeremy, I know very well that this is exactly how you see your marriage: in terms of God's plan and purpose for your lives.

You would not see things that way if Jesus had not caused changes in your life that were like water into wine. Along the path of discipleship, you heard him say "follow me to a wedding feast like none other."

And elsewhere in John's Gospel, our Lord says "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

As missionaries and as Christians, and now as a couple, you have taken him at his word. He has convinced you by the sign of Cana and many other signs that he offers a life like none other, an exhilarating life, a life so abundant that even 818 litres of superb wine can't really begin to represent it.

Today, your family and friends rejoice in the love you have for one another; but we rejoice even more in the love that God has for you, and for each and every one of us.

So I invite you now, in the presence of Jesus and his Mother, before your friends in heaven and your friends on earth, to stand before the altar and enter into this sacred covenant of life and love.

Jeremy and Kelly, both full-time missionaries with Catholic Christian Outreach, also organized a prayer vigil the night before their wedding. My homily at that occasion may be found here.




Friday, November 11, 2011

A Wedding Vigil!

Tomorrow I will witness the marriage of two staff members of Catholic Christian Outreach. Jeremy Rude, a friend for many years, is marrying fellow missionary Kelly Boyko near Edmonton. They chose to prepare themselves—and their friends—by a prayer vigil that included moving testimonies about marriage from CCO co-founder Angele Regnier and its president, Jeff Lockert.

As part of the vigil, we celebrated Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, during which I preached the following homily at the couple’s request.

Those of you who are not Catholic may find this prayer vigil a bit puzzling. But don’t feel bad—the Catholics are more puzzled than you, since when they hear about a vigil, they think ‘funerals,’ not weddings.
So when I told a witty priest about this evening’s vigil, he asked if the body would be present!

The answer, of course, is yes. Marriage very much involves the body as well as the spirit, so much so that Jeremy and Kelly will walk into the church as two tomorrow, and leave as one flesh. But that’s something we will talk about at the wedding.

Tonight, let’s talk about this unusual vigil. Actually, it wouldn’t seem unusual to the first Christians. Nighttime prayer services were so common in the early Church that we read about them in documents from the first part of the second century.

We’re not sure how vigils caught on—obviously the greatest of them, the Easter Vigil, was connected to the fact of Christ’s rising before morning. But there was also a popular belief that the Second Coming would happen at midnight. (We’re not planning to wait around for that tonight.)

Whatever the reason for their popularity, vigils have gone by the wayside except at Easter. And even the good example of Kelly and Jeremy isn’t likely to bring them back anytime soon.

But that’s too bad, really. Because a vigil expresses three powerful truths about tomorrow’s celebration.
The first is that a wedding—like any sacrament—needs to be surrounded by prayer.

Sure, people who aren’t prayerful get properly married; even a groom who spends half the liturgy worrying about whether his best man forgot the rings can receive the sacrament. But prayer opens the door of the overflowing storehouse of spiritual goods.

Prayer helps the couple receive maximum spiritual benefit from the sacrament of matrimony, and prayer helps their family and friends share more fully in these blessings as well.

St. Charles Borromeo once preached about a priest who complains that a thousand thoughts distract him from God as soon as he comes into church to pray. The great reformer and bishop replies by asking “But what was he doing in the sacristy before he came out for Mass? How did he prepare?"

No-one will ask our happy couple that question. Their hearts and minds will be set on God tomorrow—as shown by their decision to pray with us tonight.

Our thoughts too will rise more easily to God tomorrow, because tonight we have fixed them on the supernatural aspect of this joyful union.

The second great thing about a vigil is that it’s expectant—it’s a time of watching and eager waiting. In former times, all the great liturgical feasts were preceded by a vigil of prayer, even ordinary Sundays. Medieval squires spent the night in prayer before being knighted. A vigil signified the importance of the day to follow… something big was about to happen!

Well, tomorrow is going to be a tremendous day! It’s going to be life-changing, maybe even world-changing. It deserves to be anticipated with eagerness and excitement. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to looking forward to seeing Kelly appear at the door of the church, radiant and lovely. We should be even more eager to see the great work that God will do in her life and in Jeremy’s tomorrow.

Kelly and Jeremy, you are expecting great things from God; that’s just what He wants you to expect, and He will not disappoint your hopes.

Finally, our time of vigil helps us focus on Christ. In his book Life Together, the 20th century martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote “At night Christ was born, a light in darkness; noonday turned to night when Christ suffered and died on the Cross. But in the dawn of Easter morning Christ rose in victory from the grave.”

Bonhoeffer challenges modern Christians to rediscover the spiritual rhythm of night and day. Even though we no longer have any fear or awe of night, we can rediscover the great joy that the early Christians felt every morning at the return of the light. We can learn again something of the praise and adoration we owe to God at the break of each day—for He has preserved our life through the dark night and wakened us to a new day, driving away darkness and sin.

We often say that every Sunday is a “little Easter.” Well, the same can be said of every night and every morning if we begin and end the day in the spirit of this evening’s vigil, watching and waiting. Christ is the Bridegroom who will arrive without warning at the door of the house, who will awaken the bridal party from sleep. But Christ is also the Risen One whom we welcome each morning as we arise from the darkness of night.

We will celebrate many wonders tomorrow, including human love, the love of family and friends, and the sheer joy of this union; but the still-deeper truths we have glimpsed tonight will lead us to the very heart of the matter: As a sacrament of Christ’s love, Kelly and Jeremy’s wedding shares fully in the mystery of his death and rising, calling them from death to life, from darkness to light.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Introducing Father Rosica

Last night I had the pleasure of introducing Father Tom Rosica at the annual Meet the Movement dinner hosted by Catholic Christian Outreach Vancouver. Here's what I said.

When I grow up, I want to be Father Tom Rosica.

I told this to Archbishop Miller the other day, but he said it's already too late. Turns out Father Rosica is four years younger than I am. (We are, however, both celebrating this year our silver jubilees of ordination to the priesthood.)

Among my many reasons for jealous admiration, he speaks well two languages that I speak badly, having received his bachelor's degree in Italian and French literature. He attended two of the world's most distinguished schools of biblical study, and taught Sacred Scripture at three universities here in Canada.

For six years he served as the director of the Newman Centre, the Catholic chaplaincy at the University of Toronto. Perhaps it was there that he became a true apostle to youth, in which role we welcome him specially tonight.

To give you a proper list of our keynote speaker's other accomplishments, I'd have to be, well, the keynote speaker. But it's impossible not to start with his work as the chief executive office for World Youth Day, held in Toronto in 2002. It's no exaggeration to say that there are some people here tonight who trace their strong Catholic faith to that event.

Father Rosica had barely caught his breath after WYD when he took on a challenge no less daunting than running a massive international gathering. He became the CEO of Salt + Light Television in 1993, at the same time serving the Congregation of St. Basil as a formator and, then, as a member of its General Council. As you know, Salt + Light has gone from strength to strength.

He has advised both the Holy See and the Canadian bishops on communications matters; he has even been so brave as to be a consultant to the CBC. In just three weeks, he adds the presidency of Assumption University in Windsor to his other responsibilities.

But even these tremendous contributions to the Church in Canada and around the world pale in comparison to something else: Father Tom is "a man for others." His energies, his talents, his intellect may be focused on getting the job done, but his heart remains devoted to people.

If you'll allow a quick story: When my father was gravely ill, Father Tom offered Mass for him—more than once—at St. Peter's. And when Dad died, he wrote to say he'd prayed for me—and for you, Archbishop Michael—around the exhumed casket of Blessed John Paul II.

There are many other stories, well known to us in CCO, of his almost indescribable support for our movement; he has opened doors for CCO like a very skilled locksmith… or maybe an equally skilled burglar, I'm not quite sure! … CCO owes him an incalculable debt.

Dear friends, join me in welcoming a friend—a man for others, and a man for youth: Father Tom Rosica.

When the applause died down, Father Rosica looked up from the podium and said "I'm not dead yet!"

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Visit of the Dominican Nuns (Sunday 32.A)


While the usually-cloistered Dominican Nuns await the completion of their monastery near Squamish, BC, they are able to visit parishes; this Sunday we welcomed them to our morning Masses.

We're all hoping that the changes in the translation of the Mass are going to help us worship God reverently and profoundly. Many blessings have come from the liturgical renewal of the past forty years, but we know there are blessings still to come.

And of course, there have been some not-quite-blessed moments during those forty years. Vancouver escaped the worst of them, such as liturgical dance. I once heard the story of a religious Sister who danced the offertory procession in a flowing costume while playing the guitar. The bishop was visiting the parish on the occasion.

As the Sister approached the altar, the bishop whispered to the pastor: "If she asks for your head on a platter, she'll get it!"

I'm sure it's not a true story, and anyway our visitors today aren't that kind of Sister. We have in church with us the Nuns from Queen of Peace Monastery. These Sisters belong to the contemplative branch of the Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominicans.

St. Dominic made the brilliant decision to establish a community of Nuns to pray for the men he would send out as preachers of the Gospel. He knew that contemplation should precede action.

It's a hard concept for busy people in the modern world. "What do these Nuns do?" some people ask. Don't they run anything?

Today's readings tell us about these Sisters' calling. The Book of Wisdom explains that Wisdom is waiting to be found by those who take the trouble to seek her. Some effort is involved—the reading points out that getting up early makes it easier to find Wisdom—but her riches are a free gift.

In her book The Sacred Place of Prayer, Sister Jean Marie Dwyer (who can't be with us this morning) shows that even the great philosopher Aristotle taught that the pursuit of wisdom reached its highest point in contemplation. Aristotle saw contemplation as the fullest realization of our potential and the final purpose of human action.

Although Aristotle did not know the truth of a personal God, he knew that contemplation, rather than action, was the high road to blessedness. *

In today's Gospel, we can see the vocation of consecrated contemplatives represented by the wise bridesmaids. A beautiful Vatican document on the contemplative life says that "the nun is called to converse with the divine Bridegroom, meditating upon his law day and night so as to receive as gift the Wisdom of the Word and to become one with him, under the impulse of the Holy Spirit."

That sounds wonderful, but what does it have to do with us—busy priests, tired parents (and grandparents), hard-working students, all caught up in the whirl of the world?

The quick and easy answer is that we can ask contemplatives to do some of our praying for us. They offer a service of prayer to the Church and for all who ask their help. When I have big problems, Queen of Peace Monastery is my first call.

But that's not really the answer I want to leave with you today. The biggest service the Nuns offer to us is this: they are a reminder that the Bridegroom is coming. Like the wise bridesmaids, they keep their lamps lit and offer us an example of wisdom. By their special relationship to the divine Bridegroom, they keep before us a central fact: "As the Redeemer of the world, Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of our Redemption. It is the Sacrament of the Bridegroom and of the Bride."++

Sunday Mass offers us an experience of community and fellowship; it restores us spiritually and nourishes us intellectually; it provides peace and strength. But we must never forget the height and the depth and the beauty and the richness of the Eucharistic celebration. It is the Sacrament of the Bridegroom and the Bride.

We need to wake up if we have dozed off to the full meaning and power of the Mass. The visit of the Sisters, and the drawing-near of the new translation, should encourage us to pray fervently to God for the wisdom to seek him in the sanctuary, and for the grace to see his strength and glory.

* Jean Marie Dwyer, OP, The Sacred Place of Prayer: The Human Person Created in God's Image, Novalis 2011, pp. 30-31.

+ Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, Verbi Sponsa, Instruction on the Contemplative Life and on the Enclosure of Nuns (1999) n. 5.

++ John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (1988), n. 26.