•Welcome to our WCEA/WASC Accreditation Visiting Committee!
•On Monday, May 1, at 6:30 PM, in the abbey church, Bishop Kevin Vann will administer the sacrament of Confirmation to the students of St. Michael’s Preparatory who desire it. Parents of interested students should contact Fr. Victor ASAP. Preparation classes will take place here in school. More information to come.
Congratulations to those students who made the Second Quarter Honor Roll!
|First Honors||Second Honors|
•The next soccer games are: Monday, January 23, at 3:30 PM, at San Juan Sports Park [25925 Camino Del Avion San Juan Capistrano, California 92675]; Tuesday, January 24, at 3:30 PM, at St. Michael’s; Friday, January 27, at 3:30 PM, at St. Michael’s.
•The next basketball games are: Tuesday, January 24, at 3:00 PM, at Ladera Sports Center [2 Terrace Rd, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694]; Thursday, January 26, at 6:00 PM, at American Sports Center [1500 Anaheim Blvd # 110, Anaheim, CA 92805]; Friday, January 27, at 5:00 PM, at Ladera Sports Center [2 Terrace Rd, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694].
Sermon by a Norbertine Priest
The Eight Beatitudes, which we just heard about in today’s Gospel, are one of those things that we all memorized back in our catechism days, but whose importance is all too often forgotten. Many do not even know what exactly the Beatitudes even are. At best there is a vague, general idea about them: they’re sort of like 8 different ways of being nice, or something. At worst they do nothing more than remind us of a cheesy song we all had to listen Sunday after Sunday back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. But for our Lord the Beatitudes were and are something far more important. This importance is shown, first, by the fact that He went up a high mountain to proclaim them (whenever Christ goes up a mountain we know He means business), and, second, by the fact that He sat down before speaking—this position shows that He is exercising His full authority.
When St. Thomas Aquinas treats the Beatitudes in his Summa Theologica, he couples them with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, not because he was trying to save on paper, but precisely because you cannot treat the one without the other. See, the Beatitudes are nothing other than the effects of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; the Beatitudes are the operations which one performs when acting under the impulse of the Holy Spirit.
Recall what the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are. But first remembers that virtues, which are good habits, dispose us—our mind, our will, our passions—to act according to reason. A virtuous man lives with a clear head, an obedient will, ordered passions—his reason leading him to perform good acts. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are a little like virtues, but even better. As virtues dispose us that we might move ourselves according to our own reason and perform good virtuous works, the Gifts dispose us to be lead by none other than the Holy Spirit Himself and to perform perfect works—works which we could not perform with the virtues alone, works which, in the words of St. Thomas, are in a certain sense divine: to be poor in spirit, to be merciful, to hunger and thirst for holiness, to be meek, to suffer persecution for the sake of Christ—meritorious works which lead us away from this valley of tears and ever closer to eternal life. That’s why they’re called “the happy works,” the Beatitudes.
Or take this classical image often used. Imagine being in a boat. You can use oars and row yourself—a good and respectable way to move a boat: the virtues are like the oars. But you can also just lift up the sails and let the wind move you: the sails are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. St. Thomas says that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are a little like natural instinct in animals. In fact, the Latin word often used to describe this process is instinctum; we are moved by the “instinct” of the Holy Spirit. Just as animals automatically follow their instinct, implanted in them by God, so when we act according to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are moved automatically by God—although unlike the animals, we, of course, have free will; but we freely allow ourselves to be moved by God. You might even say that it is almost like being possessed, but possessed by the Holy Spirit. That’s just an analogy, but perhaps it’ll help.
Now, this is something truly wonderful: the Gifts of the Holy Spirit dispose us to be moved by God Himself, to be led by the Spirit. When we act according to them, our actions become God’s actions. Or better yet, God’s actions become ours, such that we can truly say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live but Christ Who lives in me.” And these acts are the Beatitudes: God-like acts performed by mere man. Were not talking about performing miracles or possessing other charismatic gifts; we’re talking about everyday Christian living, or what ought to be everyday Christian living. We’re talking about living like the saints. The Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites to make them act less like animals and more like human beings; the Eight Beatitudes have been given to the Christian to remind him that he is to act less like a mere mortal human and more like an angel—to do God’s will always, perfectly, “on earth as it is in heaven.” And these works, the Beatitudes, are not just simply ones which we do at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, as if it were a case of the Holy Spirit simply letting us know which works to perform, and then stepping back as we get down to business. No, these works can truly be called divine. They are constituted or formed by the Holy Spirit Himself; they simply cannot be done by man alone or even by man with the help of the virtues alone. They are on a much higher different level.
We were reminded in today’s first reading that the faithful make up a very small flock. In fact, throughout the history of mankind God has always seemed to have a rather small flock—ironically enough. But it is precisely through His small flock that He can show forth His power, when…if the members of that flock allow Him to move them by His Holy Spirit. Whenever these relatively few souls start performing those perfect works, the Beatitudes, look out. The mighty Roman Empire was conquered (and resurrected!) by a small flock of old men, young virgins and simple folk. A few hundred years ago a simple Franciscan friar with a bum knee and a handful of followers planted missions up down our western coast, which still stand today. And 15 years ago five ladies came up with the crazy idea of starting a convent of Norbertine sisters; there are now 45 of them living in the High Desert of California! A small flock living the Beatitudes becomes a shock troop—unstoppable by man and terrifying to demons.
As faithful Catholics we can be tempted to rest on our oars, as it were—secretly patting ourselves on our back, “Hey, at least I’m orthodox.” But God is not calling us just to “be orthodox.” He’s calling us to live like the angels, to be saints. He wants us to perform divine works, which will lead us to eternal beatitude and even bring us great joy in this life.
So, here’s one simple way you can start to live more according to the instinct of the Holy Spirit and fill your life with these blessed acts called the Beatitudes. Say the Angelus everyday, three times a day, just as we do here at the abbey. And when you do, use that as a moment to call upon the Holy Spirit to move you in every single thought, word and deed, just as He moved the Blessed Virgin at the moment of the Annunciation and all throughout her life. For, her life was one in which every single thought, word and deed was performed by the instinct of the Holy Spirit. Her life was filled with the Beatitudes, and hence was truly blessed even here on earth. May she who is most blessed now intercede for us, so that living according to the Beatitudes in this life, we might obtain eternal beatitude with her divine Son, Jesus Christ, to Whom be all glory and honor. Amen.
•For Richard Bushmaker, Fr. Godfrey Bushmaker’s father, who passed away this week.
•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.