Monday, November 02, 2009

Feast of All Saints - homily

I had the great privilege of meeting Mother Teresa years ago…actually I had breakfast with her. Yeah, I was walking into a McDonald’s and saw her chowing down on an Egg McMuffin. I was like, “Hey, Mother”, and she was like, “Hey”. No, just kidding, it wasn’t in a McDonald’s (can you imagine seeing her or her Sisters in a McDonald’s??). It was actually in one of her homes in Washington, “Gift of Peace”. It is an amazing home; I would love to take you all there someday to volunteer. The Missionaries of Charity care for the sick there, especially those with AIDS. So, it was after Mass one day at Gift of Peace that I had breakfast with Mother Teresa. She told me about all that they do for the sick in their homes in DC; that alone was entirely impressive. Then, she showed me the world map which indicated how many homes they have worldwide for the poor. It was incredible! What an experience it was for me to spend time with a living saint!

Today, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints. We celebrate all those who are in Heaven whether they have been canonized by the Church or not. The saints are incredible people. They are sinners just like you and me but are great friends of Jesus Christ. Those who are canonized by the Church have shown to live heroic virtue; simply put, they have lived the Beatitudes in heroic ways. And so, they are the happiest people in the world; they are most “blessed”.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit”. Pier Georgio Frassati lived this beatitude. He lived in Italy not too long ago and was a total stud. He was smart, good-looking, athletic; he was very gifted. But, he wasn’t prideful in spirit; he was poor in spirit. He thought of others before himself. He devoted his life to caring for others, especially the poor. When he died at the young age of 24, thousands upon thousands of people – many of whom were poor – attended his funeral. His family had no idea that he affected so many people in his short life. When Pope John Paul II beatified Frassati, he called him the “man of the Beatitudes”.

“Blessed are the clean of heart”. St. Maria Goretti lived clean of heart and died clean of heart, literally. She was a beautiful young girl who also lived in Italy. When she was 11, an older boy from her neighborhood kept making passes at her. She constantly said no to him. One day, he came to her and threatened to kill her if she didn’t have sex with him. Her reply was that she would “rather die clean for Jesus than live one day unclean for Him”. So, the boy killed her; he stabbed her to death. She gave her life at age 11 for purity…for chastity. That’s how seriously she took chastity and her relationship with Jesus. She is the patron saint of purity, youth, and victims of rape.

“Blessed are the meek”. St Vincent Pallotti was meek, humble, and simple. He was a priest who lived a simple life and hated to waste things. One day, another priest was throwing away scraps of paper. St Vincent collected the scraps and sold them for 10 cents. The other priest thought he was nuts. They both went to a hospital to visit the sick. On the way, St. Vincent purchased some crackers with the 10 cents. At the hospital, St Vincent saw a man who was a notorious sinner who hated priests. At the very sight of priests, her would foam at the mouth and yell out obscenities and blasphemies. He was asleep when the priests arrived, so St. Vincent immediately went over to bless him. The man then woke up. Before her could start yelling, St. Vincent dropped a cracker in his mouth and said, “this will be good for you”. As the man chewed the cracker, St Vincent told him about Jesus and mercy. He finished chewing and was about to start yelling when St. Vincent dropped another cracker in his mouth. They did this several times until the man finally broke down and cried out, “Jesus, have mercy on me”. He made his Confession to St Vincent . A short time later, he died. He died in peace. Because of St Vincent’s meekness, the man was saved!

The saints are so amazing! Their stories are so cool and inspiring. We have many stories about the saints at the Newman Center that will blow your mind. I encourage all to you to come check them out. You’d be surprised, too, with how many saints you can relate. They are real people.

Finally, we are called to be saints. We are all called to be great friends of Jesus Christ in living out the Beatitudes. What was the secret of the saints? How did they live such heroic lives? The Eucharist. As different as all the saints are – they have different backgrounds, personalities, and gifts – they had two things in common: great devotion to the Blessed Mother and great devotion to the Eucharist. When Mother Teresa was asked how she could care for the poorest of the poor every day for 50 years, she said it was because of the Eucharist: “if we didn’t have Mass every morning, I wouldn’t have lasted more than a week”. For the saints and for us, it all starts here. May we go forth from this Eucharist and be saints this week. May we go forth from here to be generous to Jesus and to others this week. May we bring God’s love to others this week as saints.

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