Fonticulus Fides

Monday, December 08, 2003

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

My first, of course.

Just now back from noon Mass at our parish (well, I ate some lunch before logging on). I'd forgotten that the Bishop was celebrating noon Mass at St. Mary's today. It was packed, as usual on a Holy Day of Obligation. All the folks who work downtown crowd in there. Sr. Mary, who leads the choir, had to make due with a quartet today -- I don't know if the other choir members were ill or just unable to come to the noon Mass, but she did well with them. Very simple arrangements, sometimes with just two voices. It was humble, but a lovely effect, I thought.

The Bishop covered a lot of ground in his homily, as is his custom, I think. I haven't heard him speak all that often, but I'm always left with lots to think about. In fact, I started pondering what he said about Mary's grace, purity and humble devotion, and how these were virtues she prayed for us to share in, then suddenly realized I was missing the next thing the Bishop was trying to teach me.

He spoke about the things that Mary did and how they were all ordinary tasks like sweeping the floor and shopping for food or clothing. And how in doing these things quite literally for the Lord, she was fulfilling her vocation in profound ways. Then he reminded us not to be so concerned about how mundane our lives might seem, but to use every task before us as an opportunity to do our best for God.

I got lost in a train of thought over that part and again had to bring myself back into the homily, because the Bishop was talking about why the Church honors Mary. "Because God does," he said. "Christ needed a mother. And while on the Cross, He gave His mother to us, because we need her, too." He spoke some about how Mary prays for us, and what she seeks on our behalf.

Then he closed with a rejoiner that we should seek to be pure in our lives, "if not in absolute innocence," he said, "in repentance." He encouraged us to make our confessions regularly and to not neglect our daily prayers and other habits that train our souls to holiness.

It was probably one of the best homilies I have heard in my less-than-eight months as a Catholic. I know a lot of folks out there don't think too much of our Bishop here in southeastern Nebraska -- he's "too strict" or "too unyielding" or "a hardnose" -- but I hope the naysayers might get an opportunity to hear him speak sometime. I find him to be very inspiring. And also full of joy. You should have seen him outside on the sidewalk after Mass, greeting parishoners and blessing every child that came near him. He's really a very nice guy.

Anyway, I hope your day is filled with blessings!



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