Why did the Baptist lose his head? Was it for his baptizing, or for prophecy, or for evangelical zeal? While each may have contributed to his demise, the proximate cause was far simpler: he told the truth. “It is not lawful,” he said to Herod’s face, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Thus did his head end up on a platter.
The world seeks to crucify the truth, which is not a thing but a person. The Word made flesh, who walked among us and taught us how to live, stretching out his arms and offering his life on the altar of the cross. He who is the the way, the truth and the life.
Blessed John Henry Newman built this glorious temple under the patronage of Sedes Sapientiae, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom who in the dome above my head holds the Truth in her lap.
That’s why the pulpit is so big, and why the nave is filled with the preachers of Dominic and Benedict, Thomas Aquinas and Anthony of Padua, Philip Neri and Ignatius Loyola.
That’s why it’s so appropriate that we end this pre-Lenten pilgrimage by seeking the truth, who is Jesus, as proclaimed by Patrick and Newman in this very city.
The truth that life is not about making me happy, but proclaiming Christ Jesus as Lord and King.
Hear Newman: “To holy people the very name of Jesus is a name to feed upon, a name to transport. His name can raise the dead and transfigure and beautify the living.”
Hear Patrick: “Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.”
The truth that we are daily called to repentance, to dying to ourselves that Christ might increase.
Hear Newman: “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”
Hear Patrick: “So I hope that I did as I ought, but I do not trust myself as long as I am in this mortal body, for he is strong who strives daily to turn me away from the faith….”
And finally, the truth that life is deadly serious and all about getting up every day and giving my life to God.
Hear Newman: “Fear not that your life shall come to an end, but rather, that it never had a beginning.”
And finally, hear Patrick:
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the threeness
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the creator.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun
Brilliance of moon
Splendor of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.
I arise today
May these days we have been graced to spend together cause us to arise each day of this blessed Lent embracing Christ, repenting of our sins and giving our lives entirely over to the Truth.