Homily of Rev. Jude DeAngelo, OFM Conv., University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry
Mass of the Holy Spirit
Upper Church, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Aug. 30, 2018
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your Love. Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created – and You shall renew the face of the earth.
Would that we truly believed that if we invoke the Holy Spirit before we make decisions in our life we could advance the Kingdom of God. When was the last time we invoked the Holy Spirit before we put something in an email, on Twitter or Facebook or in the ubiquitous blog? / Did we begin our day today in prayer to the Holy Spirit – asking to share in the Spirit’s mission to renew the face of the earth by our every thought, word and deed? Will we ask the Holy Spirit to help us make a truthful examination of our conscience at the end of our day?
When was the last time we asked for guidance from the Holy Spirit before we got up to preach or teach God’s holy people?
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in US the fire of Your love.
St Paul tells us in the Letter to the Ephesians that if we pray to the Holy Spirit we shall “…preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Does anyone else sense that as Catholic Christians we urgently need to pray to the Holy Spirit for our Church which is not at peace? / St Paul goes on to say, we must be “one Body and one Spirit, as (we) were called to the one hope (in Christ.)
What do people of good will see these days when they look at the Catholic Church? I don’t think people see one Body and one Spirit. And, inside the Church tragically there are many of the Body of Christ who have given up the one hope of our call – to be united in the one Lord, by our one faith and one baptism.
To many, we do not look like the deck hands manning the sails on the Barque of Peter. Rather, they see us acting more like stewards arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We can either chose to attend the sails together through this storm of doubt and fear or we can ignore again the iceberg of truth and go down into the deep.
Many of the people of God that I talk to, are tired of the recriminations, excuses, statements, apologies and even the accusations of these past months, weeks and days. Since Saturday many of the Household of Faith are even more disillusioned by the emergence of the circular firing squad formed by some of the hierarchy, theologians and so called apologists. Could members of the body of Christ just stop scapegoating groups of people in the Church we don’t like and enter more deeply into the anguish of the victims of abuse and the need to minister to them?
Many of the People of God’s anger has given way to grief and bewilderment, despair and loss of faith.
Has anyone noticed that soon after the grand jury report was issued we again shifted focus away from victims? We are making the same mistakes many bishops made for decades and especially in 2002. We are not focused on the victims of abuse. Oh, we may have read the Attorney General Report and been horrified/ but that is not the same as ministering to the victims.
Why did it take a grand jury to do the work of the Church? Was it not our responsibility – is it not still our responsibility to seek the truth, pray, do penance and work with all the victims? We – every bishop and every priest, every major superior, and every lay leader in the Church who breathed a sigh of relief in 2002 that things would be better now – made a conscious or unconscious choice to allow the Church to ignore her responsibility to minister to our brothers and sisters who were already victims. Did we all think because dioceses or religious orders threw money at these victims that we as a Church did our part? These brothers and sisters of ours are more than statistical headlines - they are children of God with stories the need to be told. They need our understanding. They are the Crucified Jesus whom many find to be nothing more than inconvenient reminders of our failures or worse, we have feared that they might sue us again.
Many of us were only too happy in 2002 to say, “The bishops and our major superiors need to listen to these people – that’s enough. And, we have never dealt with a Dallas Charter that does in fact put in place structures to protect children but at the same time makes every priest, religious, Catholic School teacher and volunteer feel like a criminal. We simply said that problem is taken care of – now. Let’s get back to feeling triumphant about being Catholic.”
But, victims’ suffering did not end simply because we had a Dallas Charter or because dioceses or religious communities went bankrupt. For the victims of abuse before 2002 and after, we – all of us - need to listen and accompany them. We – clergy, religious and laity - need to minister to them as one. By our common baptism – not by the restriction of ordination - we - are all called to minister to victims if we are ever to restore the one hope of our call to profess one Lord, with one faith.
Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of Your love.
I’m not sure it’s the fire of Love that has prompted some in the Church to exploit this crisis to push their own ecclesial and cultural agenda.
We must rekindle the fire of love that is rooted in hope in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Let the secular courts do their job so we can do ours. The courts are called to determine justly the guilt or innocence of the accused. The Church – you and I - are called to renew the face of the earth. There are still people experiencing homelessness on our streets. There are still refugees fleeing violence and war. There are still working women and men seeking a just wage and help in educating their children in the faith. We can only renew the face of the earth if we return to the mission of the Gospel together. Our hope cannot be in ideologies of left and right. Our hope must be in serving the Crucified Christ – the victims of abuse, the victims of war and violence and the poor, the unborn and their mothers, the marginalized, the addicted and yes we must minister to criminals.
I know a lot of people are calling for reforming institutional structures. I’m sure that needs to be done. But, first we need to be Church and listen and minister to each and every abuse victim and their families. We must restore trust by embracing victims with humility, mercy, meekness and justice.
The voices of victims, of the poor, of working men and women, of young people, the voices of religious and of clergy need to be joined as one voice in Christ and His Church. The prayers of anger must give way to the prayers of grief and anguish. The prayers of grief and anguish to the prayers of repentance. The prayers of repentance must give way to the prayer to the Holy Spirit.
And, the Prayer to the Holy Spirit must fire us to act with love through concrete ministry to others.
Broken, humbled but united as the Body of Christ we need to minister to all abuse victims and all the voiceless in our society. The Catholic Church must take the lead in this ministry and not wait for others to do it. But, we can only protect all children and vulnerable adults as we listen to our own people and recognize their right to contribute to the conversion of the Church.
I have no idea what new scandalous revelations will come to light. What new infighting will take place. But, we, the People of God cannot abandon ship or lose hope in Christ or His Advocate the Holy Spirit.
I’m not sure how this crisis will end but I know where healing needs to begin. We need the humility to confess our failures and minister to those whom we have ignored far too long. We need to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need to hope in Resurrection.
Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful with hope and in enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit and we shall be created and You shall renew the face of the earth.