Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Our Purpose" - Fr. Joe's Homily

Chiesa di Santi Giacomo e Brigida
Cassago Brianza, Italia


As pilgrims on our journey we have arrived at this place called Cassago Brianza. Thanks to our guides and new friends, Mario, Giuseppe and Luigi, we are now more aware of the connection that this place has with Cassiciacum, which Augustine describes to us in his Confessions. Cassiciacum was the place where Augustine found rest in God from the busy-ness of the world. (Confessions IX, 3,5) It is the place where Augustine and his mother and son and friends spent some months in dialogue with each other on Beauty, Friendship, and the Happy Life. He shared with us their discernment with regard to God and the fullness and completeness which God provides for us; a fullness which is perfect.

Here in this church we see images of the time Augustine spent in discussion, discernment and dialogue. He tells us in The Happy Life (De beata vita) how he celebrated his birthday here on the ides of November. Cassiciacum, for Augustine and those with him, was a place to discover the joys of retreat and rest from the busy-ness of business.

We are pilgrims. We are on our journey this week in the footsteps of Augustine. For pilgrims and pilgrimages, there is a goal. Pilgrims are always heading toward something. To where are we going? Perhaps we can take this opportunity we have today to think about our own participation in this pilgrimage. For what did we come on this journey? Why are we on this pilgrimage? What is our goal? We know that our journey will lead us to Rome… but is that our goal? Is our goal of this pilgrimage a physical, geographical place, or is it something more? Why are we pilgrims?

Our celebration in this church offers us the opportunity to discern where Christ plays a part in our pilgrimage. Our gospel this evening reminds us of the familiar story of the two people going into the temple area to pray; one was humble and the other proud. The message that Jesus is clear in sharing is that the humble one is the one who shall be justified and eventually exalted. The message is a great reminder of the gift and virtue of humility. It is a gift that we can bring with us on our journey this week and in our pilgrimage of life. Humility allows us to recognize the needs of others around us. It allows us to recognize our own needs in the presence of God. It allows us to see ourselves as we truly are.

We acknowledge then, that on our journey, we are called as Christians to have as a goal Christ and to reflect the humility he demonstrated with his life. St. Augustine in one of his letters reminds us of that goal and the way to Christ when he writes. “The way to Christ is first through humility, the second way is humility, and the third way is humility. (Letter 118, 3, 22). Let us ask God in this celebration to grant us the ability to recognize where we can discover the way to Christ in our own life and pilgrimage as we pray for each other on our common pilgrimage.

Villanova Pellegrinaggio in Italia ‘08

Rev. Joseph Farrell, OSA
March 1, 2008

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