Fr. Matthew "I'm here to speak on 'Perfection' because Tink can't!"
He must have meant I couldn't make it last week to speak on that topic because I was busy at my parish. And he was right.
But whatever he may have meant, I'm here to speak on Humility, because Fr. Matthew can't." ...and what I mean is just that he is busy up at his parish and everything. He tells me again and again, "one day, when you grow up and become a pastor yourself with your own parish, you will understand what I mean."
Okay that's enough fun, we could do this all day but I might need to go to Confession after my talk if I don't stop now. Plus, it wouldn't really do us much good - that's not why we are here.
We are here to hear about a man, a priest, named Josemaría Escrivá who founded a nice little catholic club that we know of now as Opus Dei. In fact, this group was so unique in its time that it required its own sort of legal status within the Church's structures. What Josemaría envisioned was that all work (as long as it wasn't morally objectionable) could become an Opus Dei, a work of God: our work can be made into God's work.
So the title tonight, “Footprints in the Snow” may have seemed confusing to you, and I apologize if it was a point of angst that you had no idea what it meant. But if that curiosity was good enough to bring you here tonight, then I don't apologize. I'm glad it worked. You see, I simply robbed it from this little pictorial biography I read last fall about this Saint.
Near the beginning of the biography is the story from the title, which is also portrayed in the movie version about the first 35 years of this saint's life and the beginnings of Opus Dei during the Spanish Civil War (the movie is called There Be Dragons, and it's one of those rare saint movies that doesn't make you want to gag because it gets too cheesy – so you can try to share it with some people who aren't too into their faith but are open to it). Okay so, back to the snowprints ….(Chapter 2).
This vocation grew slowly within him... a lot like me. It took a long time for me to make sense of my future, but I, like Josemaría, was happy along the way – trying to stay close to the Lord and asking for guidance. But eventually going to seminary, Josemaría finds his vocation to be a diocesan priest so that he could be more flexible for wherever God was leading him in his future. One thing that surprised me about this saint, and about the lives of so many other saints that is so often different from our own: something hits them hard and wakes them up to live life on a different level. I am stunned that so many saints have severe trial or tragedy in their lives, even if something as simple as the death of loved ones. For Saint Josemaría, he lost three younger sisters in under 4 years: an infant, a 5-yr-old and of 8-yr-old. Then his dad died just months before his ordination to priesthood. Why do these things so often play a part in making saints? I think because it impresses upon them, deep into their hearts, some simple truths that we all should remember: (1) human life is precious and every day counts. (2) our decisions make a difference, a huge difference. And because even the small choices we make have impact, then our passions, the deeper reasons for what motivates all we do, have the force of a tidal wave.
I love music, and listened to a lot of Christian music ever since childhood. There's a band I've been listening to lately called Switchfoot, and they have a song that gets exactly at these points. Some of the lyrics are: “You change the world, you change my world, every day you're alive.” And “what you say is your religion, how you say it's your religion. Who you love is your religion; how you love is your religion. All your science, your religion. All your hatred, your religion. All your wars are your religion. Every breath is your religion.”
We are called to greatness, and it comes from
I didn't run into this saint until just before I entered into seminary. My friends in college were all given this collection of quotes from this Saint which he organized from snippets of letters he wrote, etc. It was called “The Way” and that was really about all I knew at the time. I was in fact, pretty jealous that I didn't receive a copy myself at the time. I couldn't pinpoint why but I wanted one. Perhaps I felt left out or something – you know, missing all those Catholic “inside jokes” and stuff. Anyways, a year or two goes by and I decide to buy for myself the book, and actually the whole trilogy in one book, which includes two more sets of sayings, about 1000 each, most of them just two or three sentences. Talk about bite-sized and really useful for busy people.
St. Josemaría gives his own advice on the three books as a Prologue. For The Way he writes: Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear – confiding them – as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul.
I want to use tonight to look at some of the lessons that Josemaría gave me through this little book.
For Furrow, he says: My reader and friend, let me help your soul contemplate the virtues of man, for grace works upon nature. But do not forget that these considerations of mine though they may seem very human to you must be priestly as well. Since I have written them for you and for myself – an I have put them into practice too- before God. I ask Our Lord that these pages may be of use for us. May we profit by them and e moved by them so that in our lives our deeds may leave behind a deep and fertile furrow.
Oct 6, 2002 Canonization 500,000