Sermon of the Most Rev. John J.
"He who shall find me shall find life and shall have salvation from the Lord." (Proverbs: 8, 35.)
Father Brusca, Father Anselm, Mr. Frattaruolo, my dear friends in Christ:
In this particular chapter of the Book of Proverbs, we see God Himself personified in the attribute of Wisdom, and that Wisdom is transferred to God's chosen child. Prophetically, we interpret this child of God to be Our Blessed Mother. Mary, then, is the subject of this passage from sacred scripture. And such a beautiful passage indeed.
"He who finds me finds life." In our Lady's Rosary, we discover not less than fifteen mysteries, from the Annunciation, which is the subject of today's Gospel, to the Coronation of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven, which is the culmination of everything our Blessed Lady has endured throughout her life on earth until her triumphal entry into the kingdom of her Divine Son.
We, then, as Christians and children of Mary are challenged by this passage in Proverbs to find her; you, Mr. Frattaruolo, in a most special way because today you are supposed to discover Scripture itself as one who may now officially read Holy Writ, with all the rights and privileges -- and let us not forget the obligations -- incumbent upon even him who bears the greatest dignity of Christ's priesthood on earth. (That is precisely why we who especially lean upon Tradition for our spiritual nourishment find difficulty in permitting just anyone -- male, female, child -- to usurp a place in the church which belongs only to those who have prepared by study, prayer and preparation for the gift you have received here this morning.)
You may be sure, Mr. Frattaruolo, that Our Lady herself has summoned you here this morning, even as your bishop tries to hear the voice of God in whatever he does concerning you. Mary is your mother -- the mother of all of us. Christ plainly gave her to each one of us. But we must indeed find her. We must find her even as Wisdom Itself finds her; listening to her, reading those words ascribed to her in Proverbs: "I will speak great things -- My lips shall preach right things --My mouth shall meditate truth -- My lips shall hate wickedness -- My words are just -- Receive my instruction, not money; choose knowledge rather than gold -- I, wisdom dwell in counsel and am present in learned thoughts -- I hate arrogance and pride -- and a mouth with a double tongue -- I love those who love me -- my fruit is better than precious gold and precious stones -- Hear me; blessed are those who keep my ways -- hear instruction and be wise and refuuse it not -- He who finds me finds life and shall have salvation from the Lord."
And there are some other words in this passage, paradoxically enough not very often quoted: "He who shall sin against me shall hurt his own soul. All who hate me love death." Now, of course, that death is the eternal death; not the death in which we humans simply pass from this life to eternal life; rather, those who pass from this life into eternal damnation. Our Lady is both our mother and our guide through this life. She wants to be with us always helping us find not simply her, but her Divine Son -- that is precisely why she wants us to find her, so that she might lead us to her Divine Son.
Let us dwell for a moment on today's Gospel, too. "How shall this be done, since I know not man," our Lady asks. This should not be taken as a regret or a hint at refusal, although we would be less than realistic to assume that Mary was not greatly troubled at this mission. Mary undoubtedly, like every other normal woman, wanted to live a simple and normal life. The Mother of God! Everything that we know about Our Lady clearly indicates that she had no illusions of grandeur, no great quest to be "blessed among all women." She wanted only to be the handmaiden of the Lord. She wanted only to serve God with all her heart -- her soul "magnifying the Lord." And in so doing, Mary loved God above every single other human being -- not just females, but males as well. Love! Mary understood what it meant -- as no other of God's creatures -- that she was to love God with all her heart, with all her soul, with all her mind. She was perhaps the only human being among God's billions -- including the angels -- to love Him with such a degree of perfection. Is it any wonder, then, that God loves her above all His children? That God chooses her to become the tabernacle of the Most High?
Concentrate for a moment on your own tabernacle here in your church. Knowing Father Brusca as I do, I am sure that he is thoroughly meticulous about the care and cleanliness of that tabernacle. It houses our God -- Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It reequires perfection on the part of all of us. Any wonder, then, that Mary, the tabernacle of the Most High God should be preserved immaculate -- not so much for herself, but for Him who is incarnate in the tabernacle of her womb. "He who shall sin against me shall hurt his own soul." Oh the sinfulness toward Mary these more than thirty years. Sins even from those who have been called her sons in her Divine Son's priesthood. "All who hate me love death." The hatemongers of our holy Faith come from all walks of life within the Church. And they have set out to destroy the Catholic's faith in Our Mother, Our Queen, Our Mediatrix with her Divine Son. "All who hate me love death." They court death at every moment of life -- those who deny Our Lady, those who woould cast away God's greatest gift to the human race next to giving us Himself incarnate in the Holy Eucharist.
"He who finds me finds life." How do we find Mary? Through earnest prayer. By living up to the ideals of your patroness here in this church, Our Lady of the Rosary. By loving her Rosary, by praying her Rosary -- and not just those five decades. Remember, the Rosary actually has fifteen decades. Pray them frequently. Meditate on the mysteries of our Faith which each single bead recalls to our minds. Now, especially during this month of the Holy Rosary. Use the Rosary in your car as you drive. Use the Rosary to prepare your eyes for sleep -- it is said that the angels will finish the Ave's that you have not. Pray the Rosary as a family. That is precisely how you will find Mary. "He who finds me finds life." Your Rosary will help you find our Lady as no other matter on earth. And when you have found her, you will indeed "have [found] salvation from the Lord."