Sunday within the Octave of
Ascension Thursday—24 May AD 2009
Sunday Mass Text - Latin
Text - English
Beside being the Sunday within
Ascension’s Octave, the 24th of May is the feast of Our Lady Help of
Christians, a title given to our Lady by Pope Saint Pius V in the
Litany of Loreto, and a feast instituted by Pope Pius VII in gratitude for
his safe return from exile during the reign of Napoleon I. It is also
the anniversary of the consecration of our Bishop, the Most Reverend John. J.
This morning’s Gospel it taken from
the very end of Saint John’s 15th chapter. Our Lord had been explaining
to the Apostles that they must love on another with the same love that he
had for each of them. But He warned them that if they have a true love of
God they will be despised by the world: “If the world hates you, know
that it hated Me before you.” I have chosen you out of the world,
therefore the world hates you.”
Our Lord was not trying to tell us that
we should make believe that the world doesn’t exits. He is simply trying
to get us to abandon our habits of materialism—trying to get us to be occupied
with the concerns of God, and of our fellow man. As it is often stated, He
is trying to get us to “live in the world without being of
But He was also careful to warn us that
the world may act in an unfriendly fashion to our other-worldliness. After
all, they reacted to His other-worldliness by nailing Him up on the Cross!
Materialism often reacts that way to holiness. In the early centuries
there was persecution by the Romans. In the last century we say the rise
of Communism. And the Communist regime systematically expelled the people
and closed the churches and synagogues, destroying them or converting them to
secular use. They did so because they knew that the most powerful force
against their secular materialism was the religion of the people—the most
powerful weapon against the lie that is Communism is the truth of Jesus Christ.
Paradoxically, it should be a source of
consolation to us that Vatican II expelled the remnant of the faithful from
the churches in a similar way. Today, if one wants to attend the true
Mass, he is more likely to do so in someone’s house, in rented quarters, or in
a building that was converted into a Catholic church from something else.
It should be no surprise that the churches from which we were expelled have few
priests, and many of them have been closed or are in danger of being
closed—worldliness is just not the “soil” in which the the fine flower of
holiness can grow.
By now, most of you have read the
articles I posted on the bulletin—the one by Judge Bork, and the other about
the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” or FOCA.
Both of them underscore that threats that religious people can expect to face in
the near future. If the Marxists get their way it may well become illegal
to preach against immorality, and churches, priests, and professionals may be
required by civil law to do things entirely at odds with God’s Law. But
again, those who suffer this sort of persecution can find consolation in our
Lord’s words today.
We might ask how people have managed to
cope with persecution in the past in order to prepare for it ourselves.
Our Lord did promise to send an “Advocate,” the Holy Ghost to strengthen us
in our determination. Thank God for that—without that strength the world
would very likely be an unbearable place! Can you imagine the terror that
must have filled the hearts of the Apostles after our Lord left them on
Ascension Thursday, an before the coming of the Holy Ghost? Not
only did they have the Jews and the Romans to fear, but now they had to
face them without Christ, who calmly dealt with all of problems for the past
The Apostles did have one other thing, though. They
had with them the Blessed Virgin Mary—the Acts of the Apostles describes them
as taking refuge in the Upper Room, the place of the Last Supper, “remaining
steadfastly in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus.”
As well, we can make use of these same
two refuges from persecution and the other difficulties of life. The Holy
Ghost dwells in our souls as long as we remain in the state of grace. And
we always have the protection of our Blessed Mother. Make a point of
bringing both your joys and your difficulties to her in your daily prayer—you
wouldn’t want to be a stranger when you find that you have to
call on her. Likewise the Holy Ghost!
Spouse of the Holy Ghost, Mary Help of
protect us from all of the evils the world that threaten the ruin of