We have a powerful collect for today’s Mass that I cannot pass over without explaining:
DEUS, qui fidélium mentes uníus éfficis voluntátis, da pópulis tuis id amáre quod prǽcipis, id desideráre quod promíttis: ut inter mundánas varietátes ibi nostra fixa sint corda, ubi vera sunt gáudia.
“O God, who unites the minds of all your faithful into one will, grant your people to love what you command, and to desire what you promise, that amidst the distractions of this changing world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where is to be found true joys.”
All from God, all returns to Him
Let’s look at the Epistle. “All good giving,” writes St. James, “and every perfect gift, comes from above.” Every thing, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, is good—evil is not a “thing” or any positive essence, but the absence of being, the absence of God. “Every good thing” writes St. James, comes from the padre luminum, the father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow of change.
Thus we recognize the goodness in all things, and are grateful for every thing. As St. Paul says, give thanks in all circumstances. We know where it came from and where it is going. All is from God, and everything is returning to God. Our blessed Lord speaks to this in the Gospel: “I am going to the one who sent me….” Jesus knows whence he comes and wither he goes. He who is God from God and Light from the Father of Lights, knows that He has come from God the Father and is returning to God the Father. We become like him when we realize, and live according to that conviction, that we have come from God and are returning to him. If not to him, to hell. We have no lasting home in this world; we are pilgrims, on a journey, in status viatoris. We are free to the extent that we have no illusions or attachments to what is temporary. We are enslaved to the extent that we absolutize that which is not absolute.
The practice of conviction is what we call Christian stewardship. To recognize, to be continually grateful, for everything that is—our families, our homes, our jobs, our bodies, our minds, our past, present, and future—as a gift of God. And then to give it back to him: he who “keeps” his life—possesses it—will lose it, but he who loses it will preserve it unto life eternal. “Corpus Domini nostril Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam eternam.” "May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ guard your soul unto eternal life. Amen." Please pray for the parish leadership, who will be going on a stewardship retreat this Friday and Saturday, to study what it must mean for us to be Christian stewards, to fix our hearts on the life of the world to come, to be detached from this world’s goods by giving a portion away of our time, our talents, and our treasure. Our Lady, of course, was the first Christian and first Christian steward: let it be done to me as you have said, because none of my life is mine. It is all yours, and I use it for your good pleasure!