• This weekend is Presidents’ Day Weekend. No school on Monday, February 17. Students return Monday evening. No students are allowed to stay the weekend.
• Please note that billing statements have been sent home to all those taking AP Exams.
• The Sacrament of Confirmation will be bestowed on those students who would like to receive it on Monday, April 27, at 5:30 PM, in the abbey church.
• Graduation will be on Memorial Day, May 25, at 2:00 PM, in the abbey courtyard. All are welcome to attend.
• Congratulations to Fr. Joachim and the soccer team and Mr. Schoenfeld and the basketball team on their successful seasons!
• Fr. Vianney and Mr. Heffernan will be our baseball coaches this year.
• Frater Peregrine is the Archery coach.
Exurge Domine, quare obdormis, “Arise O Lord. Why do You Sleep.” “And I asked the Lord three times that it might go away. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’”
These two passages of Scripture, the first from Psalm 43, used for today’s Introit, and the second St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, today’s Epistle—these two passages introduce us into a mystery: the mystery of the relationship or balance, if you will, between God’s omnipotence and His apparent weakness. It is a mystery which was played out before the world most especially during our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection; but it also shows itself to each and every one of us on a daily basis to one degree or another.
In both cases, Psalm 43 and St. Paul’s Epistle, the speaker is faced with what appears to be his own ruin. He calls out to God for help, Who only seems all too uninterested or all too weak to lend a helping hand. The two passages resemble each other in this also, that they both begin with God showing forth His great power, saving those who call out to Him. Psalm 43 begins by recounting how the Israelites of old conquered enemy after enemy “not by sword or their own hand, but by the right hand of God”, as the text says. And St. Paul had just finished listing all the trials which he miraculously escaped: shipwreck, beatings, stonings, robbers, starvation, and so on; and he even adds how he had the Beatific Vision of God, the only person in history other than Moses who experienced such a thing in this life. In both cases, the life of the Psalmist, and that of St. Paul, God had shown forth immense power, but now He seems to be asleep. Why do You sleep?…I asked the Lord three times to help…
We all experience the same thing in our own lives. There have been times when we could very easily see God’s mighty hand fighting on our behalf, knocking down obstacle after obstacle for us. But then comes those moments, which might turn into days, weeks, months, even years, when it seems that He has fallen asleep. And so we ask, and ask, not only three times, but countless times! (Which, by the way, is what St. Paul meant when he used the biblical number 3, representing completeness.). And God doesn’t seem anywhere to be found. The fact is He is everywhere to be found; and far from sleeping, He is at those moments showing forth a power that is clearly omnipotent, mind-blowing, wonderful; but it is we who are asleep, and so we don’t see Him.
After Our Lord’s own Passion, Death and Resurrection, the best example of this can be seen in the life of His own Mystical Body, the Church. In 1870, Blessed Pope Pius IX and the First Vatican Council proclaimed the following, To the Catholic Church alone belong all those many and marvelous things which have been divinely arranged for the evident credibility of the Christian Faith. But, even the Church herself by herself, because of her marvelous propagation, her exceptional holiness, and inexhaustible fruitfulness in all goods works; because of her Catholic unity and invincible stability, is a very great and perpetual motive of credibility, and an incontestable witness of her own divine mission. Thus, like a standard lifted up among the nations, she invites to herself those who do not yet believe, and at the same time gives greater assurance to her children that the faith which they profess rests on solid ground. What the pope is saying is that, because the Church for 2000 years has managed to survive, and not only survive but grow and thrive, despite all the attacks from without and betrayals from within, because she has appeared so many times to be dead and buried only to rise up and appear as young as ever, with the same teachings (never changing but always becoming known better and better), the same unity, the same fidelity to her Divine Founder, while so many other false religions eventually show their true colors by giving in to the pressures of a corrupt culture, because the Church alone stands tall “as a sign lifted up among the nations”—because of all this, one can see the omnipotence of God working in her, one can see that the Church is not just an organization of men, but rather a work of the Holy Spirit.
How often can it appear to us to be just the opposite! How often do we cry out, “God, why do You sleep? Why don’t You help Your Church?” When all along He is there, watching over His Church, watching over us. In both cases, the life of the Church as a whole, and the life of each and every one of us as individuals—in both cases God allows trials and apparent defeats precisely in order that His power might shine forth all the more, in order that it may be clear to all who look closely that it is He Who is working, and not us. God is the Supreme Artist; and like the chiaro-oscuro technique of painting, made famous by people like Caravaggio, where the thick darkness in the background brings out all the more the brightness of the figures represented, so God allows the darkness to surround us, to surround His Church; but it’s a darkness which will not overcome the light, but rather will serve as a backdrop in order that the light might shine out all the more. And that Light is Christ Himself.
Our Lord allowed St. Paul to undergo the greatest trials so that St. Paul would not forget that it was only by God’s grace that he was a saint: My grace is sufficient for you. In the same way God allowed the Psalmist and his fellow Israelites to suffer the attacks of the enemy, in order that He might show forth His mighty power in saving them. If St. Paul, if the Psalmist, if we as individuals and the Catholic Church as a whole were surrounded by nothing but comfortable and easy times, then we would be fooled into thinking it was all our doing. When the darkness of human misery envelops us, when for all practical purposes we and even the Church herself should be completely wiped out by now, then we can see so easily, if we take the time to look, that Christ is not asleep, or weak or dead, but that it is He Who sustains us, saves us, and gives us and His Church new life.
May we never forget this fact. And as we prepare for the season of Lent, when we will contemplate our Lord’s Passion and Death in a special way, let us not forget that it was when He appeared to the world to be at His weakest, that He was actually in His greatest moment of triumph. To Christ our Savior and our King be all glory and honor. Amen.
• For alumnus, Joseph Emanuel, who is undergoing some serious health issues.
• 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.