Prayers for you at the shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii, Italy. Today 40 of our brothers and sisters arrived in Italy for a tour of Saints of central Italy. We have a wonderfully enthusiastic group of pilgrims. Why this shrine?
Blessed Bartolo Longo built this shrine 125+ years ago, after a dramatic conversion through the intercession of Our Lady. Bartolo had been greatly given over to a life of dissipation and idolatry, but realized that it was going nowhere and turned back to God. He wrote of this moment:
As I pondered over my condition, I experienced a deep sense of despair and almost committed suicide. Then I heard an echo in my ear of the voice of Friar Alberto repeating the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary: ‘If you seek salvation, promulgate the Rosary. This is Mary’s own promise.’ These words illumined my soul. I went on my knees. ‘If it is true … I will not leave this valley until I have propagated your Rosary.’
Thereafter he really made his mission to promote the praying of the rosary and rebuilding the dilapidated church in Pompeii which now stands as a beautiful pontifical basilica! This helped to lead to development near the excavated ruins of ancient Pompeii which had been buried by volcanic eruption!
Next to a land of dead appeared, quite suddenly, a land of resurrection and life: next to a shattered amphitheater soiled with blood, there is a living Temple of faith and love, a sacred Temple to the Virgin Mary; from a town buried in the !lth of gentilism, arises a town full of life, drawing its origins from a new civilization brought by Christianity: The New Pompeii!… It is the new civilization that openly appears beside the old; the new art next to the old; Christianity full of life in juxtaposition to long surpassed paganism.
Bartolo Longo’s life of wandering far from the faith during his university and his return though the gift of the Rosary can be a great inspiration for our day. Like him, you really can change the world, and the lives of those you love through this ancient devotion to prayer.
Today want to touch upon the question of when we leave Mass. Our Lord continually refers to us as sheep, and contemplation of shepherding shows that goats go before the shepherd, sheep follow him. So do you leave before the priest at Mass or after??
Of course I have noticed folks who come forward for Holy Communion and run out the door. I understand the human urge to cut the corner, to take a short cut, but should we be doing this in regards to our weekly worship of God? No Way! I know priests that have given long homilies on the sinfulness of arriving late for Mass or leaving early. I also know what family life is like, and that sometimes the family walking in late is not doing so because of sloth. Sometimes it is because the children decide to walk the dog, or visit the bathroom, or hide in the basement at the very time when parents are trying to shepherd them to the mini-van to go to Mass. Tardiness is not always directly willed, and so I try to be understanding on the late arrivals. (Yes, and know that this even affects me, as sometimes Mass begins late because I am waiting for altar boys to vest, or trying to find a lector, or talking to a grieving widow, or sometimes I am just plain late). Because I ask your understanding as a parish family with my weakness, I give you my understanding and patience as well.
However, making a habit of leaving immediately after receiving communion is another issue entirely. Even on the occasions when Mass runs longer, that is not sufficient excuse to leave before the end of Mass. I don’t want to enter into debate about the sinfulness of leaving early or willfully arriving late. Everyone knows that missing Mass without serious cause is a grave sin. To look at this issue in terms of ‘when is the latest I can arrive?’ or ‘when is the earliest I can leave?’ is the wrong way to look at this. It is a recipe for spiritual disaster to measure our love for God by what is the minimum permissible. I give you this quote from St. John Chrysostom:
When we perform an act of kindness we should rejoice and not be sad about it…. If you do away with miserliness and counting the cost, with hesitation and grumbling, what will be the result? Something great and wonderful! What a marvelous reward there will be: Your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will rise up quickly. Who would not aspire to light and healing.
What costs are you counting? Extra time in the parking lot? First in line at IHOP? Jesus gives you life at the cost of his own life. Is it really too much cost to stay for the entire Mass?
Respectfully in Christ,
How can I better “Live by the Spirit, Walk by the Spirit?”
Throughout the year I would like for us to consider the fruit of the Holy Spirit as enumerated in Galatians chapter 5. The first fruit of the Holy Spirit mentioned by Saint Paul is Love.
Love is divine charity. The life of grace in our souls. It is not what we feel, it is what we live. It is what makes us who we are as sons and daughters of the King!
We all must ask ourselves frequently, “Is this ________ leading me to greater charity?” If the answer is no, and if the _____ is leading us to more works of the flesh as described by Saint Paul, then we need surgery. Cut it out of your life.
Each of us is given sufficient grace by God to live our vocations. If you ask Jesus what draws you to Him, expect that he will answer. And it will likely start with a recognition of the things in your life which are leading you away from the life of Love.
Please fill in that blank, and honestly ask yourself the question. Then you will better live and walk by His power.