Saturday, June 22, 2013

Congratulations OLP Class of 1958!

I was honored to celebrate Mass this evening with the Class of 1958 of Our Lady of the Presentation Academy.  Now that OLP Campus is a part of Saint John's Seminary, Saint John's Seminary has become a part of the Our Lady of the Presentation Community, which has been the heart of the Church in Oak Square for the past hundred years!  

I shared with the alumnae the good news that Our Lady of the Presentation Lecture Hall and Library is slated to open for the beginning of September.  Stay tuned...much more to come on the wonderful things God has accomplished in that regard.

Here's the homily I prepared for these great folks:

From the Presentation to the Assumption
Homily to the Fifty-Fifth Anniversary Class
of Our Lady of the Presentation Academy
June 22, 2013

According to an ancient tradition, Joachim and Anna, the aged parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, brought their three year old child to the Temple in Jerusalem in thanksgiving for her birth and to consecrate her to God.  In doing so they foreshadowed Mary's presentation of her Son Jesus, through whom God would redeem the world.

Fifty-five years ago you graduated from a school which took its name and its mission from that same mystery.  The mystery of God's providence, his goodness to us, as by the ebs and flows we present our lives and our loves to him.

It started for you, as it did for Mary, when your parents first placed you in the care of God in this Holy Place and the sisters who worked there.  As the holy ones in the temple did for Mary, so the sisters sought to plant within your heart a love for Christ and for his Church, and to teach you to live and love like Jesus and his Blessed Mother.

They did this, because they knew that, even as a little child, today’s Psalm was echoing in the depths of your heart: My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.  Thirsting as a child for love and a place in the world, thirsting for a sense of who I am and what I was created to be, thirsting for a security, a safety and peace.  Even as a child, the words of the Psalmist define the desires of our innermost being: “ are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.”

So your teachers watered you, with the knowledge of why God made you (“to know him and love him and serve him in this world and be happy with him in the next”) of what he made me.

And then came your First Communion, all decked out in white.  Again, the Psalmist knew the thoughts of your seven year old heart: “Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory...”  And from that first day when you received that host which was Jesus, that bread which was God, you have known his strength and his glory in the depths of the sanctuary of your heart.

All through your life, due in no small part to Our Lady of the Presentation Academy, the thirsting of your soul for God has known his kindnesses as “a greater good than life.”  When you were first loved and when first you learned to love.  Perhaps when you were married or when you held your first child in your arms or when you first found what brought true happiness.  Perhaps in the deepest moments of prayer as your lips glorified him you glimpsed the peace the world cannot give and the joy which can only come from his love.

But there have been days of trouble, as well, in the decades since first you played in the school yard on Oak Square.  That cancer, that breakup, that betrayal, that fear, that loss, that death, that panic....  But each time you have been able to turn to him and to the same Cross that hung in the front of each of your classrooms, singing with the Psalmist, “You are my help, and in the shadow of your wings (even in the midst of troubles) I shout for joy.”

In more recent days, when the aches and the pains have become more noticeable, when even more of your classmates have left us since the last reunion, when you find yourself discussing medicines more than reminiscences, you have been called by God to rely on him in your weakness, your frailty, your fear and even your pain.  With the Psalmist you sing, “my soul clings fast to you (O God); your right hand upholds me.” And more certain than any walker and more effective than any drug, God upholds you when you are old just as surely as he did when you were new.

And one day, my friends, at a time unknownst to anyone of us, God will bring an end to this journey and we have been on and will call us home to himself to be judged and recompensed for what we have done.  On that day, first described to us by the sisters, God will simply inquire whether we have blessed him all the days of our life, and whether we have lifted up our hands and called upon his name unceasingly.

Then if we are judged worthy, we will be presented to heaven, to the company of all the Saints, just as the little Virgin was presented at the Temple and her Most Blessed Son was presented to the Priests... and on that day we will know “the riches of a banquet: so sumptuous, that our ‘soul shall be satisfied’ and  ‘with exultant lips our mouths will praise God forever.’

For that is what we were made for, and why Our Lady of the Presentation intercedes for you, that you, good sons and daughters of Our Lady of the Presentation, might this 55th year and on your 60th and on your 70th as well, be worthy of the faith we have received in Christ Jesus and in his Holy Church.

Congratulations and God bless you.