Sacred Heart

Catholic Church

Imlay City, Michigan  Tel: (810) 724-1135

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Fr. Paul Ward

Sat., & Sun., June 28 & 29, 2014;
Solemnity of Sts. Peter & Paul
Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Three Points About Today’s Celebration


   With last Friday’s celebration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we bring to a close a long series of spiritual festivities, which moved from Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday through the Ascension and Pentecost, on to Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi and finally the feast of our parish’s namesake, the Sacred Heart. By happy coincidence one more festivity is given to us, that of Ss. Peter and Paul, which is of such solemnity, that it ranks even before the Sunday of Ordinary time which we would otherwise be observing. I hope everyone has been spiritually strengthened, stronger against temptations, more pure and humble, detached and with an improved prayer life. We spend our whole lives working on such things, overcoming discouragement should we fail, persevering.

   I have two points for today’s homily. The first is regarding the Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. The second is about St. Peter and St. Paul.

   I begin with the Divine Face devotion. There are some parishioners who wish to start a devotion which goes back many, many years, and has as its fruits reparation to our Lord for blasphemies against Him and for sacrileges on Sundays. After every Mass this weekend, in the Social Hall, two parishioners invite all of you to stop in and learn about this devotion. Perhaps you, too, might wish to take it up. There are prayers which they will provide, you can learn a bit of the history of this devotion, what makes it loveable, and ask questions.

   Very often the Sacred Scriptures refer to the face of God. I could not even begin to list them all here, but we find the great Jewish blessing from Num 6:25-26 saying, “The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.” The scriptures often tell us to seek God’s face, as in 1 Chronicles 16:11, “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually,” and again in Ps 105:4, “Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.” St. Augustine refers to this verse as the common thread of his masterpiece, On the Trinity, proposing his great work – an exploration of Trinitarian theology – as a very personal pursuit of God’s face. Sin is seen as turning away from God’s face, and contrition as a return to it, as we read in Hosea 5:15, “I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI also speaks often of the face of God, referring to the fact that God really took a human face in Jesus the Lord; and in a book on the Liturgy (The Spirit of the Liturgy), he explains why it would be better to return to that part of pre-Vatican II liturgical rites whereby the priest did not face the people, for it is not the face of that man who is the ordained Catholic priest, but the face of God, which the people of God seek at the Holy Mass. I think this devotion could bring excellent fruits; and I encourage all who embrace it to fill the exterior actions of the devotion with the interior devotion of real fervor. So after Mass, in the social hall.

   The second point brings us to the feast of today, that of Ss. Peter and Paul. Here I’d like to address a certain problem which, as far as I can tell, has arisen in the 20th century, and blossomed after the Second Vatican Council. It is this, that some like to portray these two foundational pillars of the Church as if they contrasted, as if they presented two opposite visions of Christianity. They will put St. Peter in the place of authority, and St. Paul in the place of charism; Peter with order and discipline, and Paul with openness and flexibility. Then they will attempt to cover up their disobediences, liturgical abuses, heterodox interpretations of Bible passages and flat-out heresies, claiming that the authority of the Pope in Rome is squashing the creativeness of the Holy Spirit.

   Yes, it is possible for men who are in positions of authority in the Church to abuse their offices; this happens especially when, for example, a more lax bishop might become angry with and take punitive action against a very faithful priest. The whole world has seen this happen thousands of times in the last two decades alone. But that’s not what’s going on here. Here we have Catholics, maybe theologians, priests, bishops, or whoever, who are disobedient and heretical, and are being justly corrected. In this case, it is dishonest to say that the disobedient heretic is being unjustly kicked around by other men in higher office.

   St. Peter himself writes, in both of his Epistles, about the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 1:21) in ways that even the heretical disobedient people would like; and St. Paul exercises his authority in an unflinching manner, as we see clearly with the Corinthians, but especially so in his letter to the Galatians, both in matters of conduct and in doctrine. The more one studies any of the doctrine of the Apostles, one of the most marvelous things is how perfectly all of them coincide in discipline, doctrine and even tone. For the message all the Apostles gives us is one and the same: it is about Jesus Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit, so as to bring us to God the Father.

   On this feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, therefore, let us confidently adhere to and proclaim the unity of the Catholic faith, in the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church given to us by the Lord and founded upon the Apostles. May today’s two great apostles intercede for us, with Mary, their Queen and our Mother, and by their intercession and example, may we become daily better and better followers of Christ.
















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