Fr. Julian Peters, OSB, gave this homily on March 21, 2013,
the feast of the passing of St. Benedict.
Looking at old photos and home movies is a popular activity for
family gatherings. There are snickers and giggles about hairstyles,
clothes and eyeglasses; comments about how much weight has been
lost - or, more frequently,gained; scenes of special events and
vacations; little kids being silly; grown adults acting stupid for
the camera; seeing family and friends long gone.
"The Way We Were" - preserved for posterity. "How Far We've
Come" - prompted by a moment of reflection.
But reminiscing and remembering can be dangerous. To harken back
to another time, revisiting the land of the past - no matter how
distant it may be - runs the risk of stirring up feelings of
embarrassment or regret. Maybe "the way we were" wasn't always so
great. And "how far we've come" isn't quite so satisfying.
There's certainly an element of that whenever we gather here to
celebrate the Sacred Mysteries….
We begin, not necessarily by reminiscing, but certainly
remembering and acknowledging that the way we most recently have
been living out our faith, bearing the burdens of our human nature,
isn't always where we should be.
And we give ourselves over to something, someone, greater.
Grateful at how far God has brought us on the way to salvation,
praying God to see us through to where we ultimately want to
Today, in a very particular way, we gather as a family,
commemorating the passing into glory of our Holy Father Benedict,
celebrating his legacy. We are here - monks, oblates, students,
alumni and friends - because we have responded, in different times
and in different ways, to the voice of the Lord inviting us -
giving ourselves over to something greater than our own plans and
designs. Following a little Rule for beginners, directing us, with
the Gospel as our ultimate guide, to eternal life.
Each one of us with a story, each one of us with memories (the
photos and movies of the mind), of special occasions and moments of
grace. And yes, of silly, stupid and even sinful things we have
We gather to honor him who continues to instruct us in the
school of the Lord's service, through a Rule that is neither harsh
nor burdensome, encouraging but also challenging, correcting but
ever accepting and loving, coaxing (sometimes pulling) us along the
steps of humility, reminding us that while we will assuredly die to
this life, we will certainly live unto eternity.
Our coming together today poignantly finds us approaching the
threshold of the holiest of weeks - when those most solemn rituals
will raise our gaze toward Jerusalem, toward the Cross, ready to
bask in the light of the Resurrection. With Benedict reminding us
that this is what it's all about: preferring nothing to Christ as
we immerse ourselves once more in our observance of his Passion,
Death and Resurrection.
So today, with the words of Saint Paul, we recall "the way we
were": "Think of what you were when you were called…not many were
wise, or influential or of noble birth…. Yes, God chose the
foolish, the weak and the lowly…."
In this great act of thanksgiving, we rejoice in "how far we've
come," acknowledging that we still have a ways to go. Heeding the
instruction of the Master - "So let us open our eyes to the light
which comes from God and our ears to the voice from heaven…never
swerving from His precepts so that we may deserve to see Him who
has called us to His Kingdom."
And, never losing hope in God's mercy, we focus anew onwhere
we're going, eating and drinking in memory of Him, who lived with
us, suffered, died and rose for us.
So that what is not possible to us by nature may be supplied by
the help of grace, and we may come all together to everlasting