[A note came from Fr. Mark in France today; he hasn’t been able to post to the blog, but he did send this homily which he preached for today’s Mass, a Saturday in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Fr. Mark presented the homily in French, of course, and the original text is on-line at Le Blog du Greg. I’m taking the liberty to make a translation and post it here. Some of Fr.’s beautiful prose style will be lost in the process, alas. –RC]
Monastère de l’Incarnation
Homily for October 20, 2007
Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary
28th Saturday of Year One
Romans 4: 13:18
Luke 12: 8-12
A fruitful faith
The first reading speaks to us of the faith of our father Abraham. What are the characteristics of that faith? Faith is the principle of fruitfulness. It is by faith that Abraham became the father “of a great number of peoples”, the father of all the faithful, and finally the father of the Virgin Mary, who carried his faith to perfection.
A life-giving faith
The faith of Abraham is, at the same time, a fountain where life springs forth. Where faith is weak, life also weakens. That is why the Lord says, “It is by faith that the just man shall live.” (Heb 10:38). Again, the life-giving faith of Abraham reaches its summit in the Virgin Mary. Elizabeth, impelled by the Holy Spirit, declares her blessed because she has believed what God had said to her. (Lk 1, 45).
A faith molded by hope
Finally, the faith of Abraham is shaped by hope. Faith brings us to the edge of mystery, but it is by hope that we cast the bridge across, which lets us pass even into the Kingdom.
The faith of the Holy Virgin
The faith of Abraham, great as it is, cannot compare to that of Mary, that of the Virgin Mother of Holy Saturday. It is because of this indefectible hope which rose like a flame in the heart of the Virgin, on the day of the great Sabbath after the death of her Son, that the Church gives her all the Saturdays until the end of time. The Church marks them in the holy liturgy with this beautiful Office and Mass “De Beata”, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which become for those who celebrate them the means of passing from hope to hope, even amid trials.
In the unity of the Holy Spirit
The Gospel contains two references to the Holy Spirit. The verse before the Gospel had us pray: “Grant us, Lord, the Spirit of truth, that He may bear witness in our hearts” (Jn 15: 26-27). Within the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is He who seals the communion of the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is He who achieves the unity of the Three Persons, being substantially the Love which proceeds from the Father to the Son, and from the Son to the Father. This is why the Church has us say in her prayers, “in unitate Spiritus Sancti — in the unity of the Holy Spirit”
The sin against the Holy Spirit
Where the Spirit of God reigns, there is the unity described in the Acts of the Apostles: “They all, being of one mind, were devoted to prayer, along with several women, among whom was Mary, the Mother of Jesus” (Ac 1: 14). It is only by the grace of the Holy Spirit that one can say, “Jesus is Lord”. (1 Cor 12: 3). This is why he who rejects the Holy Spirit places himself outside of the grace of God. Whoever resists the Holy Spirit becomes blind and without sense before the Face of Christ and in the presence of His open Heart. He who resists the Holy Spirit closes his own ears to the word of Christ who pardons, who invites to communion, who calls from death to life. This is why the sin against the Holy Spirit is so grave: it prevents us from walking in the WAY, from adhering to the TRUTH, from opening ourselves to the LIFE.
Yet there is a very sure way to never fall into this sin against the Holy Spirit. It is to open oneself to the Virgin Mary. Whoever receives Mary receives the Holy Spirit. Is this not what we see in Saint Joseph at the beginning of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, and again in Saint John at the end of the fourth gospel?
If in our lives there is little evidence of the Holy Spirit at work, the source of all fruitfulness, it is because we give too little place for Mary. All sin against the Holy Spirit contains at its root, a refusal of the mystery of the Virgin Mary, and every refusal of the mystery of the Virgin Mary contains at its root the sin against the Holy Spirit.
Where Mary is
In his discourse on monastic life, the Holy Father said it well: “Where Mary is, one finds the pentecostal breath of the Holy Spirit, one finds vigor and authentic renewal.” Have we heard him? Shall we let ourselves be addressed by this prophetic word, or will it be ranked among thousands of sterile good thoughts that remain untouched the day after tomorrow, like rose blooms that never give their scent?
It is moving to see when one goes to the Benedictines of the Holy Sacrament that the Virgin Mary occupies the place of the abbess, in all her regular positions. Among those sisters, the abbess is always Mary. Where Mary is truly abbess, the Holy Spirit reigns. At its basis, this is very evangelical. It is a matter of imitating the gesture of the beloved disciple who, obeying the word of Jesus crucified, “took her into his home”. (Jn 19: 27).
All our resistances to the Holy Spirit, everything that prevents us from experiencing the full fruitfulness of the faith of Abraham, everything in us and around us that drives away “vigor and authentic renewal” would disappear as the fog disappeared in the sun this morning, if, if we were to open our hearts to Mary.
The Holy Spirit will teach you
The future of the monasteries of the Congregation depends on the reception we will give to the Holy Spirit, and that reception always happens through the mystery of Mary. Then we will be able to say in all confidence, “Do not worry about how you will defend yourself or how to speak; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you are to say.” (Lk 12, 11-12).