Extraordinary Form Homily, October 7th, 2012
19th Sunday after Pentecost
A tale of two cities
Dickens’ great novel about revolutionary Paris and London tells the tale of Two Cities. So our Lord in today’s Gospel tells the tale of two cities: the City of God and the City of Man. You belong to one, or you belong to the other. The Kingdom of heaven is like a King who invited many guests to his Son’s wedding feast. He slaughtered his oxen and fatlings and dressed the great table for his guests, so earnestly does he desire each guest’s salvation. He prepares his table at every Mass, but many guests do not come. They treat the king’s invitation with contempt, and murder his messengers.
Do you know the largest religious group in this country? It is not Catholics, for Catholics attend Mass every Sunday and submit themselves to the apostles’ teaching. The largest religious group in our country is not Catholics, but non-practicing Catholics, for 75% of those who claim membership in the Catholic Church neither attend Mass faithfully nor believe in all the Church’s teachings. They do not come to the Wedding Feast, and they ridicule the Pope and his faithful bishops. What is this mysterious malice, that not only ignores the King’s invitation, but that drives the invited guests to a fury of intolerance?
So the King destroys those murderers and burns their city, the City of Man. The King affords apostates no quarter, and for us, neither is there any third way. Either we enter the City of God, and take our place at the wedding feast of the Lamb, or we obtusely remain in the City of Man to await our certain destruction. But one man did try a third way. He entered the City of God in shabby clothing. St. Gregory the Great writes of this passage: “The marriage is the wedding of Christ and his Church, and the garment is the virtue of charity: a person who goes into the feast without a wedding garment is someone who believes in the Church but does not have charity.”
How terrible to come before God with dirty, stinking, rotten clothing! We observe a dress code in our college chapel. It is a sign that we do not come before the Lord without clothing ourselves, as best we can, with the virtues that God himself provides. God provides grace, but we must put it on, as St. Paul says in the Epistle: “Put on the new man … put away lying … let not the sun set on your anger … steal no more….”
Year of Faith
God intensely desires our happiness, now and forever. He prepares the nuptial feast of his Son, at which we receive the very self-offering of our bridegroom. With his own hand he feeds each of us with himself. Yet how many Catholics believe this? How many, rather, manifest the obstinate malice that ridicules their own Mother, the Church? They have lost the virtue of faith. Faith must be received from another, certainly, but we must develop and practice the faith we receive. Pope Benedict opens a Year of Faith this week, on Thursday, October 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The “Door of Faith is always open for us,” writes the Pontiff. “To enter that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime.” But “in large swathes of society, a profound crisis of faith has affected many people.” How will you, college students and college tutors, practice this Year of Faith? The Pope recommends, above all, studying and teaching the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I will say more on the Year of Faith in the coming weeks.
The Holy Rosary
Today is also October 7th, the Feast of the Holy Rosary. On this day in 1571, 70,000 Christian men came up against the seemingly invincible Ottoman Navy. Each Christian held a rosary in his hand, and so the ensuing victory brought about a new devotion to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. We too must bear the rosary into our battles. The City of Man wars incessantly against the City of God, and the battle lines cross directly through each human heart. What will save us from the furious secularism of our time, intent with mysterious malice to humble and subjugate the Church of Christ? You and I must pray the rosary, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, “my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and its depth.” Nothing bad can touch the family that regularly prays the rosary with devotion. It is one of the great anthems of the City of God, of which, we beseech God and His Holy Mother, we many always be faithful and true citizens.