The Dallas Fort Worth area is blessed to be able to host a number of ecclesial gatherings of study and prayer for those in ministry from all over the United States. Last we year the National Society of St. Vincent de Paul met here, followed not long after by Catholic Charities USA. And we have each year now the annual Dallas Fort Worth Ministry Conference which is sponsored by the Dioceses of Dallas and Fort Worth and the University of Dallas, at which last year over 5000 people were in attendance. Just this past week, the Southwestern Liturgical Conference hosted its annual meeting here to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its establishment. The gathering was blessed with a presentation by Donald Cardinal Wuerl of Washington and Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta. There were many well presented workshops on that related to worship, prayer, and the Sacred Liturgy. Bishop Farrell presided at the opening Mass and I presided at the closing Mass. What follows is my homily, based on the readings of the day (Friday of the third week in Ordinary Time, and the feast day of St. Angela Merici), and the theme of the Conference.
CLOSING MASS HOMILY
Dear friends, brothers and sisters, and all involved in the Church's Liturgy,
Thank you for being here these days in North Texas. I think that you brought us the blessing of being here without ice, which is normal for us in this month. You have brought to us the blessing of rain, and your presence and commitment to liturgical life of the Lord's people. And, like so many others present in our State, I know that you got here as quickly as you could! I certainly did. I guess that I am a reformed Midwesterner or Yankee - and a reformed St. Louis Cardinal's fan....if you followed any of that nationally this year!
At any rate, welcome - y'all - thanks for being here with us, and more importantly, for praying with us.
Your theme of reflection in these days - keeping the flame alive - can certainly be a reflection of the Latin liturgical saying of "Lex Credendi, Lex Orandi". Because what you believe, you pray, and what you pray you believe, and thus bring the warmth of the love of Christ to all whom you help to pray, sing, and participate in the Liturgy. I think that your theme for these days is more than a theme - it is a proclamation of mission and the witness of your lives.
Because also a flame not only gives warmth, it gives light, and light will show us the path to walk in the years ahead, in love with the Liturgy of the Church. I might suggest these ways:
Las lecturas para este día a primer vista pueden parecer algo diferentes para esta convocación, pero de hecho son las lecturas de la Iglesia—en su oración pública- para Liturgia. Son también una llama que ilumina el camino para vivir nuestra Fe en nuestra epoca - para creer y para orar:
A. David and the Responsorial Psalm: May keeping the flame of authentic liturgical renewal prayer, shine the light of penance, reconciliation, mercy and the necessity of living lives of integrity to those who come to believe and to pray with us!
B. The Gospel: May the light of this Gospel proclaimed in this Liturgy help humanity to see that even the smallest efforts, or the ministry of one person in a tiny parish church or one person in the biggest of our congregations - can lead to greatness, magnificence and new life to someone who may stop by to pray with us, or who are routinely present at Sunday Mass. The great moments in our encounters with the Lord at times begin with the smallest efforts: because we pray, and we believe!
C. The Saint of the Day: A part of the Liturgical calendar that I love is the calendar of the Saints. Sometimes, - I know that it is not preferred (!) but I do change from the weekday cycle so that the life of the Saint can shine Forth. Today is St. Angela Merici. She may not mean much to us, unless somewhere in our educational background is the heritage of her daughters, the Ursuline Sisters. In a time when the world as she knew it seemed to be falling apart, St. Angela said that "I also beg to be concerned about every one of your daughters. Bear them, so to speak, engraved upon your heart---This will not be difficult for you if you embrace them with a living love." St. Angela's vision and love for the Body of Christ, and her new community, was, without doubt nourished by the Church's liturgy - where she found the flame and light of Faith to show her the way. May the flame of faith which is strengthened and nourished at the Table of the Lord - through your efforts and lives - help all have that living love. Angela could love because she prayed, she believed.
The Church's year is still new, as the Liturgical Calendar reminds us. The counting or ordering of the Sundays is not even five yet! Having then, begun a new year, we also recently began historic new time in the life, teaching and worship of the Church, in which I believe everyone here played an important role. I know firsthand the work of parish priests, deacons, liturgists, cantors and musicians and others here in Fort Worth. It is a new day, and a new song, a time to believe and to pray: the path for which is illuminated by the fire of the love of Christ in worship and song. It is your and our song; it is song of the entire Body of Christ.
The Lord be with you - And with your Spirit –