Posted by: fvbcdm | July 23, 2012

Feast of Saint Bridget of Sweden (23 July 2012)

This morning as I was celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours with our community, I was struck by the words of the 50th psalm which is the responsorial psalm for today’s Mass. Early in the psalm, it says “Gather my faithful ones before me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”  Here God speaks of how he wills his holy people to come before him, as the courtiers gather before a beloved king in his throne room.  And how do they honor him? In this case, by covenant, that is, by entering into a friendship with God.  And this friendship is attested to by sacrifice.  Sacrifice is a form of worship and adoration in which the people offer to God something of value.  Sometimes a physical thing, like a lamb or a dove, or a basket of olives or a sheaf of wheat.  And sometimes what is not strictly physical, but is nonetheless pleasing to God, namely, the sincere praise of God’s goodness and divinity and love.

Later in the psalm, God says, “He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me.”  This is one of the means for worshiping God; another would be a kind act to another person, an alms to a needy one; an act of assistance to one who needs it.  Yesterday I returned to Houston from New Orleans where I spent the weekend.  One of the things that impressed me there was a tremendous group of teenagers (4000 of them, someone said) who are taking part in a summer program of doing good for the city of New Orleans, so damaged by Hurricane Katrina seven years ago.  The program is being sponsored and organized by the Lutheran Church; it invited these young people to come from different parts of the nation to put their summer vacation time to good use by working.  Everywhere I went in the city, there were the groups of young people in their very conspicuous orange T-shirts with the Lutheran logo, doing various kinds of gardening and horticulture.  What a great idea!  It was hard work, no doubt, but I’m sure that they enjoyed this unusual way to spend the summer, to meet new friends, and to get to see and experience the special character of New Orleans.  I hope that they also referred their work for the people of New Orleans to God as a program of praise, sacrifice, and adoration.  Whether it is a lamb or a dove or a helping hand, or the mulching of a newly planted tree on one of New Orleans’s “neutral grounds” as we call them, it is a sacrifice which glorifies God and helps one’s fellow men and women.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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