Monday, May 12, 2014

The World Needs More Saints!: College of St. Scholastica Baccalaureate Mass: Daily Mass Homily--Saturday, May 10th, 2014

           First, a practical item.  We decided that there will be no collection this morning at Mass.  You students and parents have given CSS enough over the last four or more years.  I hope you are okay with this decision!
            I have been pleased with the latest advertisements for St. Scholastica I have seen around town: the world needs more saints.  Props to the marketing people who came up with a catchy slogan that has depth.
            On one level, you should be proud of your degree and the four or more years you invested into your education.  You have been prepared in the classroom to make a difference in a school, hospital, business or other field.  Please God, these places will all be better for hiring saints.
            Yet listen to this slogan again through a spiritual lens: the world needs more saints. 
What, exactly, is a saint?  In our Christian tradition a saint may refer to individuals in two places.  The first are those living today.  In the New Testament—especially in the Acts of the Apostles and in the letters of St. Paul—a saint was another name for a Christian.  They were men and women who followed Christ and were following his way.  Today we speak of saintly people (Pope Francis for instance).  Whether someone famous world-wide or a saintly person closer to home (a grandparent, sibling, friend, etc.) these men and women are different.  They live for God, make good decisions and make us better being around them.  The second way we use the word saint is to refer to anyone in heaven.  Every person in heaven is a saint.
            I realize the exams, papers and course work have been completed, but here is a fun fact for you.  (Don’t worry, there won’t be a test on this after Mass).  The Latin word for saint—sanctus—is the same word we also translate as holy.
            Now here is a quiz.  Are you holy?  If you think you are holy, please raise your hand [a few hands are raised in the crowd].  It’s a good thing I’m not grading you!  The fact is you are all holy!  In the Scriptures the word holy means set apart for God.  By simply coming to Mass this morning you are, at some level, set apart for God.  You aren’t out fishing on the opener slaying the walleyes (which I think makes you even more holy!).  You aren’t out at Perkins.  You aren’t packing up.  You are here with God at Mass, and that makes you holy.
            The trick is, we all must strive to grow in holiness and let God set us apart even more.  Whether our faith or prayer is something you think about often, daily, weekly, or hardly at all, God wants a relationship with you.  He wants to show you His love and mercy that is without end and He will gently lead you into greater union with Him from wherever you are at.
            When I attended college here I was always proud to put on my racing jersey for cross-country meets.  The one word on the front: Saints.  This jersey made me wish I had heard the conversations of coming up with a mascot for our college.  How exactly do you find a mascot for a saint?  Somewhere we came up with our beloved Storm…but remember we are not the St. Scholastica Saint Bernards.  We are the St. Scholastica Saints!
            Seeing you the past couple of years wearing saints apparel—sweatshirts, hats or sweats—makes me think: you are the mascots for our college.  You are called to be a saint, both here and forever in heaven.
            In his book East of Eden, John Steinbeck sets this mission forth in a profound way: “I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us…Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil…There is no other story.  A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil?  Have I done well—or ill?”
            My prayer for you on this, your graduation day, is that you will be a saint both here and in heaven forever.  Indeed, the world needs more saints!

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