The Triumph of Our Lady's Immaculate Heart
May 10, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 18:9-18) Gospel (St. John 16:20-23)
Before I say anything about the readings, I just want to point out the fact that today is the first time we are celebrating the Feast of Blessed Damien. This is the leper priest from Hawaii and so he is known as Blessed Damien of Molokai. A wonderful feast, especially for those of us in the United States, another saint to whom we can pray.
In todayís Gospel we pick up precisely where we left off yesterday. "The world will rejoice while you grieve, but then your grief will be turned to joy, and it is a joy that no one is going to be able to take from you," Jesus said. "When you see Me again, your hearts will be filled with joy, and that is a joy that no one can take away." When we just think about what it means right now to be a Catholic in this society, as all of these unfortunate things are coming to light and the media is having a field day with it, it is a cause for grief. The media is rejoicing. The worldly types are rejoicing. I read an article just yesterday that there is something called the European Parliament and a number of the members of this European Parliament have teamed up with this group that calls themselves "Catholics for Free Choice". These are pro-abortion Catholics. They have begun an advertising campaign against the Church, and they are going to continue that campaign with the support of these political leaders in Europe.
We can see what is going on in the world, that there is a movement to try to undermine the Church, a movement to try to destroy the Church. We need to praise God for this. It is about time that we, as Catholics, actually have an opportunity to suffer for our faith. For all too long we have been able to be wimpy Catholics. We have been able to sit back and think that it is okay to play both sides of the fence. We cannot. We have to make a choice. And if we are going to make a choice for Jesus Christ, we are going to pay for it; we need to understand that. The Lord made very clear that if we are going to follow Him we will suffer. The world will hate us because it hated Him. It is something we have to understand. We need to know that this is what is going to be required, because we cannot really make a choice if we do not know what is going to be expected in that choice.
Obviously, none of us knows completely what is it going to be, but we can know for a fact that if we are really going to live our Catholic faith, we will be persecuted, we will be hated, we will be rejected. That, Scripture tells us, is cause for joy. Now most of us in this society would not look at that as being a cause for joy. Every one of the saints, however, does see it that way. It is exactly what Our Lord tells us. In fact, it is the last of the Beatitudes: "Blessed are you when they persecute you and slander you and speak all kinds of evil against you because of Me," He said, "Rejoice and be glad on that day." So we need to change the way we look at things. We need to consider what Our Lord said in the Gospel reading today: "When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish." The idea of going into labor is not a happy idea for a woman, and yet she knows fully well why she is doing it. It is so that she can give birth to a child. Look at the heroic nature of every mother, who knows fully well that she is going to have to endure the most painful thing a human being can endure, and still she says "yes". She is willing to conceive another child and bring that child to birth in tremendous pain. She says "yes" over and over again to that.
So too for us, we cannot simply look at the labor. A woman does not look at the labor and say, "No, I am not going to do this. I do not want to suffer." She looks at a baby; she looks at love and she says "yes". The Lord, in giving us this example, is asking us to do the same, to look at the love we have for Him, to look at what is going to come from the suffering. There will be souls that will be brought to the Lord. There will be greater holiness and perfection within ourselves. There will be union with Jesus Christ and His Cross. Those are the things we need to look at, and when we can look at those then we can say "yes".
If it was just a question of "Do you want to suffer, yes or no?" most of us would probably say "no". But it is a question of "Do you want to be united with Jesus? Do you want to be holy? Do you want to go to Heaven? Do you want to continue the work of the Lord? Do you want to be a part of the work of salvation and redemption of souls?" When it is put that way, who of us would say "no"? When you know that in order to do that you are going to have to be crucified with the Lord, but you know what is coming on the other side of it then we would say "yes". Even in the midst of it, for a woman to know she is going through this so that a child will be born, so too in the midst of this, for us to know that we are going to suffer so that great good can come from it, even in the midst of the suffering, there is cause for rejoicing. There can be great joy because we know why this is happening.
That is what Our Lord is asking us. He will not force it upon us, but He will offer it to us. Out of love, just like the generous heart of a woman who is willing to say "yes" to conceive a child, knowing what is going to follow a few months later, now the Lord is asking each one of us. Are we willing to open our hearts in love? Are we willing to accept whatever is going to come in order to bring about the Triumph of Our Ladyís Immaculate Heart? Put that way, are we willing to say "yes"? Are we willing to do what Our Lady has done? Are we willing to do what Our Lord has done for us? Are we willing to unite ourselves to the Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart, and to say "yes" with Our Blessed Lady and with Our Blessed Lord to whatever it is that may be coming?
The world rejoices now; they will grieve when Satanís head is crushed. We might be in anguish right now, and the anguish will become far worse for anyone who is Catholic, but there is cause for rejoicing because we know why we are doing it. We will be united with Our Lord; we will be united with Our Lady. We will be the heel that crushes Satanís ugly head, and we will be victorious in the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.