April 17, 2014

Resurrexit Sicut Dixit! Alleluia!

He Has Risen As He Said! Alleluia!

Happy Easter!

The next Entrance Exam will be given May 3rd.  We generally encourage 7th graders interested in St. Michael’s Preparatory to take the exam on that day.  Feel free to spread the word.  Please have interested families contact Mrs. Christian at 949-858-0222 (ext. 237) to register.

● There is a Moms’ and Dads’ Night Out scheduled for Sunday, April 27, at 6:30 PM in the Perpetual Help Room.  See Rimini Esser for more details.

● The Spring Concert is on Sunday, May 11, at 7:00 PM, in the Perpetual Help Room.  All are invited.

● The Spring Sports Awards Ceremony is on Sunday, May 18, at 6:30 PM, in the Perpetual Help Room.

Oral Exams
● Senior Maturas will be presented before the faculty on Friday, May 23, at 12:30 PM.  That day is a normal day of classes.  All the other students will be dismissed at the regular time (12:20 PM); seniors will be dismissed after they have presented their matura presentation (around 1:45 PM).

● This year’s Commencement Exercises are on Monday, May 26 (Memorial Day), at 7:00 PM, in the abbey courtyard.  All students are required to be present; they should arrive by 6:30 PM.

●The next baseball games are as follows:  Tuesday, April 29, at 3:15 PM, at St. Michael’s; Thursday, May 1, at 3:15 PM, at San Juan Sports Park (San Juan Capistrano, CA).  Our baseball team is currently tied for 1st place.  Congratulations!

Homily of the Week by Abbot Eugene J. Hayes, O. Praem.

Oral Exams
     “O God, who by the pages of both Testaments instruct and prepare us to celebrate the Paschal Mystery, grant that we may comprehend your mercy, so that the gifts we receive from you this night may confirm our hope of the gifts to come.” We have this night listened to 9 selections from the Sacred Scriptures, readings of God’s word, taken from the Old and the New Testament both.  We have, as St. Augustine reminded us, listened in fact to God Himself and He has listened to us in the prayers after each reading such as the one I just repeated which we prayed after the last reading from the Old Testament.  And if we have done this well, then we are sure that the God to whom we pray is within us and the Son Risen from the dead is once more among us in a particularly grace filled way. 

Some of you may be amazed that we have listened to all those readings and responsories and prayers and that we are still awake.  It was thus also at the time of St. Augustine who at another Easter Vigil those centuries ago at this precise point of the Vigil said the following words (which any preacher tonight could make his own):
     “We have heard many divinely inspired readings and I don’t have the stamina to give you a sermon to equal them in length and you couldn’t take it even if I did.”  An editorial comment in one translation observes: “Well he certainly does his best….  Coming after all the readings of the vigil and the singing, it would certainly leave a modern congregation feeling stunned; and there is evidence toward the end that at times he was so tired that he was losing his train of thought…”

Oral Exams
Commentators on the word we have heard have pointed out that in the 9 readings one indeed can find, if one looks carefully and prayerfully enough, a common thread and that is dying and rising with Christ.  We celebrate the historical event of Jesus’ bodily arising from death of the tomb, his resurrection and our participation in it.  And what is that participation of ours, how does it occur, but through our reception of the sacrament of Baptism, the gateway to the sacraments, necessary for salvation, by which we die and rise like Him; death to sin, rising to the new life of grace, here and now, gifts which confirm our hope of gifts to come, as that prayer says.  This is after all the focus of our first reading from the New Testament tonight, the reading right before the Gospel, that selection from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans in which we can find the convergence of the themes of all the readings we have heard.

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Christ dies for the sin of our first parents, he dies for all sins, every offense against God.  We through baptism into that salvific death of His, die to sin and rise from the baptismal font alive to newness of life, enlivened by divine grace, God’s own life given to and shared with us.  Our old self, our self before baptism, crucified with him, is done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin… Consequently, St. Paul tells us, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

For the Christian the annual celebration of Easter is not just a matter of looking back, of recalling history, no matter how personal and individual.  Easter is a lived reality, it represents one more occasion by which the power of the Risen Christ is made present and effective.  And so to underline this essential element, we will tonight as every year be called upon to renew our baptismal commitment affording God the way “to bring to perfection the saving work he has begun in us.”  It is not just a nostalgia-evoking ritual but a sacramental ritual in that it touches on that which is unseen, the grace of baptism, the reality of divine filiation, the sharing of God’s inner life, our death to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.  And in the renewal of the formula we are reminded that it is a program for life.  And it is in this context that we understand why this night for early centuries was the occasion for the administration of the sacrament of Baptism.  In this context too we understand why, in our own time, this night is the preferred night for the baptism of adults and older children.  If the immediately past years are any indication in our country alone, more than 100,000 adults and children will either be baptized absolutely, or if already validly baptized in another Christian denomination, will be admitted into full communion with the Catholic Church through the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation and the reception of Holy Communion for the first time.

Jason Navarro, a young man who has completed the preparatory program at St. John the Baptist parish, is one of those over 100,000 who in a few moments will receive those gifts.  Our Easter celebration then is all the more richer and the reality of the Risen Christ’s activity among us all the more tangible as Jason puts on Christ for the first time, as he is strengthened by the Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead, as he is nourished by the body and blood poured out for our salvation.  

 May the gifts which Jason receives tonight and which we have all received, these Easter sacraments be brought to their perfection, so that all of us having been buried with Christ through baptism into his death we might live fully in newness of that life which will know no end.   

As we renew our baptismal vows during this Eastertide, pray for an increase and perseverance in the gift of faith, which God has so graciously given you; and pray for the conversion of so many others who still do not believe in Christ, for their salvation depends on it.  May you all have a most blessed and holy Eastertide, and may you persevere in your faith until you see the Risen Christ, our glorious King, face to face in heaven. 

Prayer Requests
●For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.


April 11, 2014

The next Entrance Exam will be given May 3rd.  We generally encourage 7th graders interested in St. Michael’s Preparatory to take the exam on that day.  Feel free to spread the word.  Please have interested families contact Mrs. Christian at 949-858-0222 (ext. 237) to register.

● Third Quarter Oral Exams are this week:  Monday through Thursday.  Students are encouraged to study; parents are encouraged to pray.

● Students are dismissed for Easter Vacation after the Good Friday service (around 4:30 PM).  They must return on Sunday, April 27, by 7:45 PM.

● Non-senior parents are reminded about their donation towards the graduation reception.

● There is a Moms’ and Dads’ Night Out scheduled for Sunday, April 27, at 6:30 PM in the Perpetual Help Room.  See Rimini Esser for more details.

● The next baseball games are:  Tuesday, April 15, at 6:00 PM [*Updated], at Bonita High School (La Verne, CA); and Wednesday, April 16, at 1:30 PM, at St. Michael’s.

Homily of the Week by a Norbertine Priest
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.” How can we explain this? What were the Pharisees supposed to see in the Son of Man lifted up? What are we to understand by it?

Whenever we hear challenging Scriptures in the liturgy, we might practically assume: “I’m not supposed to understand this,” or “I can’t possibly put that into practice.” In this verse, the Lord is telling us something about Himself that should make an impact on our lives. Something about Jesus being lifted up on the cross will proclaim to one and all that He is the Son of God. At the moment of supreme weakness and defeat, we are supposed to see the power and the glory of God.

Christ teaches us that His power is shown not by calling down fire from heaven, not by calling twelve legions of angels to assist Him, not even by destroying the Jerusalem Temple and rebuilding it in three days. Instead, His real power is shown by suffering freely and patiently accepted for love of us--and this combined with no threats of retaliation, no bitter words, no breath of hatred from His mouth. Only God can suffer like that. Only God can love so perfectly, so purely, people who can be so unappreciative.

It goes without saying that the Lord wants us to love and to suffer like Him as well. And if we say, “I can’t possibly put that into practice,” or “It’s a nice ideal; maybe someday I’ll make it,” to each of these reactions, the Lord answers, “No. This is for you. And you must put it into practice without delay.” What is the Lord asking of us?
Perhaps it is best explained by St Paul: “For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but … with you we shall live with him by the power of God.” In order to follow after the Lord in His Passion, we have to become weak. In order to experience God’s power in our lives, we have to become weak. Who wants to become weak? Who boasts of weakness? Aren’t we more often concerned about being right, being on top, being in control? Or avoiding people and situations that might make us feel awkward and unsure of ourselves? The idea of deliberately putting ourselves into a state of dependence and vulnerability seems to set us back quite a ways.

But Saint Paul explains what kind of people boast of their weakness and why--Christians: “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, … for when I am weak, then I am strong.” To be weak for the sake of Christ does not mean making excuses for ourselves, or giving ourselves permission to sin, but it is to set our sights on the cross of Christ and say: I will imitate that Love. I know that I will fail and fall short again and again. But my Savior has invited me to come, to behold Him, and to imitate. There is no greater love than this and I claim it for myself. There is no higher standard of love than that of Christ on the cross. And there is no greater feeling of inadequacy or weakness than trying to imitate this love--and yet it is so salutary. 
We all fall short. After taking barely one step in following the Lord we realize that we cannot be generous, poor, chaste, obedient, prayerful, prudent, courageous unless some power from on High descends to overshadow us. And God often allows us to fall short for the sake of teaching us a lesson that is hard for us to learn: Depend more on me. Think more about me. Stop thinking so much about yourself and your problems and weaknesses. Stop being surprised that you are weak. But be humble and you will be exalted.

Isn’t this a refrain of Lent? If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. One of the hardest tasks we face is the conversion of our ways. Wouldn’t we all like to walk out of this church this morning feeling compelled to change for the better? To feel so inspired that we are willing to suffer anything and do anything for the Lord? It always seems to come to the same thing: Unless our hearts are touched, we won’t change. We’re looking for a compelling reason to give up what we’re used to, to refrain from what we don’t need, to reach out to others at inconvenience to ourselves. And until someone puts his finger on our hearts, it just won’t happen.

Perhaps the Lord is putting His finger on our hearts today in this way: Look again at me hanging on the cross and understand this: This is the only way to life, to love, to power, to glory. These gifts are mine to give. Be weak in me and dependent on me, and you will receive more power and glory than you can bear. You will receive the strength to love like me, which is the only strength worth having. And most importantly, when you truly feel how weak you are and how good and powerful I am, then you will know that I AM. And what I AM, by my grace, you too will be.
Prayer Requests

●For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.