• Congratulations to all the students who successfully completed their third quarter oral exams! Report cards will be emailed home on Wednesday.
• Looking ahead: Students are dismissed for Easter Vacation after the Good Friday service (around 4:15 PM), on April 19. All parents are welcome to attend the service, which begins at 2:00 PM (Come early since it is always packed!).
• Congratulations to our archery team, who will soon be competing in State Finals!
• Congratulations to our baseball team on their recent victory! The next baseball games are: Tuesday, March 26, at 3:15 PM, at St. Michael’s; and Friday, March 29 (place and time TBA).
In today’s Gospel we hear about our Blessed Lord clearing out the vendors from the Temple. And we see from the story that Jesus was very upset. In fact, it’s the only time in the New Testament when we hear about Jesus being very angry. In fact, He was furious. Why? Because some who were visiting the Temple in Jerusalem were not being reverent and respectful; they were not going there to pray but to make money and perhaps even to cheat people. So our Lord threw them all out.
As you know, the Temple in Jerusalem was very important for the Israelites; it was the center of their worship, where God came to meet man in a special way. It was God’s house. So we should not be surprised if Jesus, Who is God, was upset that some were making a mockery of His house by their lack of reverence and respect. Now if that was the case for the Old Testament Temple, which was just a foreshadowing of the things to come, what is God thinking now about the way some Catholics carry themselves in His churches? You may know that, in that ancient Temple, the Jewish priests offered animal sacrifices to God: sheep, oxen, cows—just as God had told them to do through Moses. But once Christ came and offered Himself on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins, there was no more need for those animal sacrifices. And every time Mass is offered in a Catholic Church, that perfect sacrifice of Christ is renewed and made present on our altars. And when we receive the Eucharist, it is really and truly not bread and wine (even though the external qualities of bread and wine are still there), but Christ’s Body and Blood.
That being said, it is no exaggeration to say that Catholic churches are the most important buildings in the world. This church which we are now in is not just another building; it is truly the house of God. Not only does God come to meet us at every Mass on the altar, but He even remains here night and day in the Holy Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle.
So, if all this takes place in every Catholic church, how much reverence ought we to have every time we enter a church! If Jesus was furious because people were not reverent in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem, where they offered simply animal sacrifices, then how upset will He be with us if we do not do our best to show reverence in church.
Over the past say 50 years or so much reverence has been lost. The sense of the sacred in our churches has been lost. We’ve built ugly churches, we’ve made a circus out of the liturgy, we’ve heard sermons lacking in substance. So should we be surprised that belief in and love for the Holy Eucharist has declined so much? And unfortunately it has often been the bishops and priests who have given the worst example.
We have to restore the sacred in our hearts and in our churches. We must offer through Christ, with Christ and in Christ all that is good. We ought to use the most beautiful vestments and vessels possible; we ought to have churches decorated with precious art; we ought to sing the most beautiful music ever written. Incense, candles, well-ordered ceremonies—all of this is very important, because it is our way of offering back to our Divine Creator the creation which He placed under us. If God has given us gold and silk and Gregorian Chant and Palestrina, why should we give Him plastic, polyester and “Kumbaya”? And this offering unto God of all that is His must be a reflection of the love and devotion which burns in our hearts. Remember, this is the house of God, not just another building.
This is why when we come into a church we should always: 1) take some holy water and bless ourselves with a nice Sign of the Cross; 2) then we ought to make a good genuflection towards the tabernacle—a great sign of adoration to Jesus, Who is there inside in the Holy Eucharist; 3) next we ought to kneel down and say some prayers. Remember that praying is simply talking to God. It would be very bad manners if, when you visited someone’s house, you did not greet them, but simply ignored them. Well, how rude is it, to say the least, not to greet God when you come into His church, His home? 4) while in church we always ought to try our best to follow along at Mass and to be quiet; 5) finally, if you receive Holy Communion, do so with the greatest reverence and respect; this means that you must be in the state of grace in order to receive It, otherwise you commit the grave sin of sacrilege (so if you’ve committed a serious sin, do not receive Holy Communion until you’ve gone to Confession). When we are receiving Christ’s Body and Blood, we can never be too reverent. Pope Benedict has given us a great example in this by encouraging all Catholics to receive Communion on the tongue and not in the hand. Though you are still allowed to receive on the hand, you might want to consider going back to the more reverent way of receiving on the tongue.
In today’s first reading we heard those well-known Ten Commandments, one of which is: Remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day. St. Benedict, that simple monk who was both the Father of Western monasticism and the real founder of Western Europe, used to say: “Put nothing before the service of God.” It is this approach to life—that the worship of God is primary, and that all creation must be directed towards Him, and that everything we do must be centered around the divine liturgy, the humble service of God—it is this approach to life which built the Christian culture that flourished throughout the world for hundreds of years, that is until the Enlightenment spread its darkness over the face of the earth.
A church is not just another building; it is the home of God. So let us show that reverence for God’s house with our words and our actions, and we will show great love for Him, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
• 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.
• For the Sturkie Family’s very special intention.
• For Mrs. Martha Cuatto, wife of our Latin teacher Mrs. Giordano Cuatto. Martha is expecting to give birth this weekend.
• For the repose of the soul of Mr. Will Moebest, father of alumnus Bruno Moebest, who died this past week.
• For the Church.