When one prays in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, “we are accepting the Lord’s invitation,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said to about 60 people at the Sancta Familia Holy Hour at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne on Thursday, March 16.
That invitation was issued when the Lord said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are weary, and I will give you rest,” the bishop explained. “Amid the busyness of our daily lives, the challenges, the stress and so much activity, a Holy Hour such as this is an opportunity to rest, to relax with the Lord.”
Sancta Familia is a program initiated in October to provide the opportunity for contemplative prayer every third Thursday of the month, according to Principal Jason Schiffli. There is usually a speaker, and time for students, parents, faculty and friends to enjoy private prayer.
“Our goal is to provide a means for parental support, spiritual growth and catechesis,” Father Bob Garrow explained in an email. Father Garrow is chaplain at Bishop Dwenger and parochial vicar at St. Jude Church. Previous speakers, he noted, have included Father Bob D’Souza, who spoke of the life and canonization of St. Teresa of Kolkata; and Michael Heinlein, theology teacher at Bishop Dwenger and writer for Our Sunday Visitor.
Last week’s holy hour included benediction and veneration of the holy Eucharist exposed on the altar, in addition to Bishop’s presentation. “It was very moving; something I’d like to bring to my family” said Karen Ewing, a member of St. Jude Parish. Accompanying Ewing was Hannah, her daughter and a sophomore at the school. “The bishop prompted me to think more about others,” Hannah added. Another listener, Tristin Conroy said the evening’s message provided a “blueprint for holy family life.”
Bishop Rhoades said:
“Sanctifying the home is the theme of these monthly Holy Hours. This theme reminds us of our common vocation, what the Second Vatican Council called ‘the universal call to holiness.’ Sanctification or holiness is God’s will for us. As St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification.’ (1 Thess 4:3). God wants us to be holy, to become saints. Here in this chapel, we are surrounded by saints who remind us of our calling — the great saints depicted in the stained-glass windows, and, of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary, our perfect model of holiness, depicted in the painting here in the sanctuary, Our Lady, Queen of All Saints. Mary and the saints teach us and show us this powerful truth of our faith: that, as St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians: ‘God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him’ (1:4).
“Mary and the saints, ordinary people in many ways, men and women of every walk of life, attained holiness, not by their own merits, but by opening themselves to God’s power and grace in their lives. They show us that every action we take, everything we do, can be for God’s glory and can contribute to our sanctification, to our growth in holiness,” the bishop said.
He continued: “We don’t become holy apart from our everyday life, but in our everyday life, especially living our state-in-life vocation according to God’s will. I can only become holy through my life and ministry as a bishop, not apart from it. The same for you who are married and are parents. Your way to holiness is by being the best husband or wife, father or mother, and being the best is not according to the standards and values of the world, but according to the standards and values of the Gospel. Those standards and values include God’s commandments, but they are more than the commandments. The life of holiness to which we are called is the life of Jesus. Holiness is, to use St. Paul’s expression, “to put on Christ.” I can think of no better program for putting on Christ than the self-portrait of Jesus that we see in the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are the charter of the Christian life, the Magna Carta, so to speak, of Christianity. A good definition of a saint is this: a man or woman of the Beatitudes. This is holiness: a life of conversion to Christ, a life according to the Spirit, a life that cooperates with the grace of God, a eucharistic life, a life of the Beatitudes.
Our homes are sanctified when we strive to live a life of the Beatitudes, Bishop Rhoades said. “The Beatitudes are a self-portrait of Jesus, so when we live the Beatitudes we are imitating Jesus. I have a very practical suggestion for you: post the Beatitudes in your home, somewhere where the family will see them each day: on a wall or a door or even on the refrigerator. If the Beatitudes are the Magna Carta of Christianity, shouldn’t we keep them in a prominent place? … We should know the Beatitudes, recognize their importance, and try to live them, basically, model our life on the life of Jesus since that is what the Beatitudes teach us — the life of Jesus, the disposition of His heart — poor in spirit, meek, merciful, etc. We all seek to be happy and to have happiness in our homes and families. The Beatitudes show us the path to true happiness in this life and in the next.”
He noted that “The Beatitudes do not follow the logic of this world. They reveal the logic of God, which is the logic of love. They show us God’s wisdom, which is the wisdom of the cross. The logic of the world has us seeking pleasure, success, possessions, things that easily can become idols. These things give us an illusory sense of satisfaction, but ultimately, they leave us unsatisfied. They can even leave us enslaved. If we wish to sanctify our homes, we must reject the logic of this world and accept the logic of God, the logic of love. We must seek God’s wisdom, the wisdom of the cross. The Holy Family of Nazareth lived in this wisdom. It is the wisdom of the Beatitudes.”
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