The Loss and Supreme Good of Religious Life, Mass for the Renewal of the Temporary Profession, May 24, 2014

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Missionaries of Charity Convent, New Bedford MA
Mass for the Renewal of the Temporary Profession of Sr. M. Trina, MC
May 24, 2014
Phil 3:8-14, Ps 63, Mt 25:1-13

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in this homily: 

  •  The first reading helps us to understand the beauty and the motivation of religious life. Like St. Paul, a religious considers everything as a loss, as rubbish, compared to knowing Christ, gaining Christ, being found in him. A religious accounts the good of private property as rubbish compared to the joy of becoming spiritually poor and, united with Christ in his poverty, rich in the treasure of Christ’s kingdom. A religious accounts the great good of a human family of her own as nothing compared to the joy of uniting herself to the chaste love of Jesus. A religious accounts the blessing of human free will, of going about as one pleases as being independent and in charge as nothing compared to uniting herself to Christ’s obedience, and saying with him, “not my will but [God’s] be done.” A Missionary of Charity accounts the gift of choosing one’s own friends, caring for those who one chooses, as something small compared to uniting herself with Christ’s passionate thirst and free and wholehearted service of the poorest of the poor. For a Missionary of Charity, knowing Christ Jesus in his poverty, chastity, obedience and self-giving service, with loving trust, total surrender and cheerfulness, is a pearl of great price, a treasure buried in a field, worth selling everything else to obtain. This is the means to conform oneself to Christ in his sufferings, in his death, and in the joy of his resurrection. This is the way toward “perfect maturity.” But like St. Paul, it’s something we won’t attain fully here. Forgetting what lies behind — what we’re giving up — and straining forward to what lies ahead, we pursue the goal of God’s upward calling, of our supreme vocation to holiness.
  • That’s the holiness that Sr. Trina seeks. The words of today’s Psalm express the heart of a good religious: her heart longs for God, her soul thirsts for him and for what his heart thirsts for on the Cross, she lifts up her heart calling on his name in prayer with blessings, she thinks about God upon her bed and throughout her day. And as much as she thirsts for God, God thirsts for her and for us in love even more.
  • The way we accompany her is shown in today’s Gospel. She is the bride chosen by Christ the Bridegroom and we’re called to be wise bridesmaids waiting with her in prayer, in thirst, in yearning for the nuptial union in this world and its fulfillment in the next. The wise bridesmaids who had plenty of oil to light their lamps in the darkness of the night were longing for the Bridegroom’s arrival. The stupid bridesmaids had forgotten that there are certain things that can’t be borrowed. We can’t borrow the oil of another’s love for God, of another’s faith. We can be inspired by it. We can seek to imitate it. But we can’t borrow it. We need to keep our own lamps full of that oil of love. That’s the greatest way we can help her in her vocation, by opening ourselves up to the oil God wants to give us to keep our vigilant flame of faith alive and growing, so that she’s never take her heart off of the love of the Bridegroom who has chosen her and continues to call her to himself.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Phil. 3:8 More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith 10 to know him and the power of his resurrection and [the] sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,  11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  12 It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus].  13 Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead,  14 I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

Psa. 63:2 O God, you are my God — for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, Like a land parched, lifeless, and without water.  3 So I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.  4 For your love is better than life; my lips offer you worship!  5 I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.  6 My soul shall savor the rich banquet of praise, with joyous lips my mouth shall honor you!  7 When I think of you upon my bed, through the night watches I will recall 8 That you indeed are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.  9 My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.

Matt. 25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  3 The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them,  4 but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.  5 Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  6 At midnight, there was a cry, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  7 Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.  8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  9 But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’  10 While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.  11 Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’  12 But he said in reply, “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’  13 Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.