September 24, 2016

Announcements

•Next Sunday, October 2, are Parent-Teacher Conferences, beginning with the freshmen at 6:00 PM; sophomores at 6:30 PM; juniors at 7:00 PM; seniors at 7:15 PM. All parents and students are required to be present.  

•Mr. David Sorkin, the Chair of our accreditation Visiting Committee, will be conducting a one-day “pre-visit” on Thursday, October 20.  

Athletics

•Congratulations to our cross country team on their success at the last race! Our next cross country meet is:  October 1, Saturday, at 8:00 AM, at Central Park [18100 Goldenwest St, Huntington Beach, CA 92647].
•Congratulations to our football team on their recent victory, 58-20! Our record for the year is 2-1.  The next football game is:  September 30, Friday, at 3:30 PM, at St. Michael’s.

Sermon by a Norbertine Priest

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
 
Tomorrow is the birthday of the Roman Emperor Augustus.  Here was a man, born on the eve of the Cataline revolt, who after well-nigh a century of civil war established peace for the Roman people, who took the long defunct Republic and transformed it into an vibrant Empire.  This breath of new life lasted four centuries in the west, and a thousand years beyond that in the east.  Yet even this man, as great as he was, for all his administrational genius, who reshaped the course of Western Civilization, achieved a feat now passed.  

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

Vanity means “emptiness.”  And here it is the emptiness of purpose, of lasting accomplishment and fulfillment.  Every time we ply ourselves to a task and bring it to fruition, there’s an expiration date we know not.  In the final days of his long life, Augustus seems to have realized the eventual futility of it all, though with his typical good humor.  He said to the attendants at his deathbed, “Have I played the part well?  Then applaud as I exit.”  He knew, as Shakespeare did, that life’s “a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.”  

Even the most successful life ends in death, and surely the man who reformed a political system that had lasted for hundreds of years could reasonably expect no longer life expectancy for his own deed of having found Rome brick and left it marble.  As the Preacher himself said later on, Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.  And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool?  Yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun.  This is also vanity.

As the vanity of political history, so also the vanity of the heart.  How often do we arrange all things to satisfy desires that are never really satisfied?  “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full.”  Notice that when we reach for seconds at the table, though we are no longer hungry, in an attempt to recapture that first moment of bliss, it invariably falls flat.  There is never again at that meal the zest of the first taste, the lone tear of joy rolling slowly down the cheek.  No matter how much beauty we let our eyes behold, they never stop wandering, nor do they bring rest to our hearts.  Perhaps most tragic of all is music, whose very nature brings a rapture foredoomed to leave sadness in its wake.  “The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.”  That perfect game, that funniest joke, that luminous insight, that pivotal camaraderie, those thrilling accolades—trying to recapture the moment is a chase after wind.  

But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about Whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him.  With their usual astuteness, the editors of the lectionary couldn’t be bothered to include the antecedent for their pronoun, so that the whole pericope conspicuously lacks the name of Jesus.  Herod kept trying to see Jesus.  This means that even at that time, Jesus was drawing the heart of Herod; He thirsted for Herod’s love.  But when Herod finally met Him, God disguised as the Man of Sorrows, he thought Him a fool and sent Him away in the white robe of a fool.  Why?  The sensual man does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually.

The plurality of many things are vanity, and do not satisfy the heart, but the singularity of Him Who is supremely one alone gives purpose to existence and brings rest to the soul.  Herod was too busy living his sensual life to lift his eyes to heaven, and so he couldn’t see that heaven was right before his eyes.  His desire to see Jesus was good, but thwarted by his own weakness and vanity.  Jesus also draws our hearts; if we respond both by rejecting this world’s siren song, no matter what the tune, and by humbly and relentlessly trying to see Him, we too will be granted what we want, though with perfect and lasting and satisfying success.

Prayer Requests

•For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
•For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
•For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.