- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 30, 2005

The following are excerpts from a sermon prepared for tonight’s All Saint’s Day vigil by Brother Hugh Vincent Dyer at the Dominican House of Studies in Northeast.

In Manhattan, I have seen hundreds of people at a time standing in line to have books autographed by an author. People brave all sorts of weather to get a signature from Dennis Rodman or Hillary Rodham Clinton, to share vicariously in the fame of another.

Somehow we are tempted to think that if we have even the slightest share in the lives of the famous we also will become famous.

Yet, this seeking after vicarious fame fails to recognize the unrepeatability, the opportunity open to each of God’s children. Left to such a life, at the time of death, we will be in danger of suffering the agonizing memory of a wasted life. Human beings are not called to be famous, but to give their lives in love for the lives of others.

The saints have stood in another line seeking to have the book of their lives signed. The author is the Author of Life, and his signature, like that of the poor and illiterate man, is a simple mark: a cross. This mark offers no mere vicarious share in fame, but like all marks made by God, this signature is personal and transforming. Following the saints, this is the autograph we seek.

The saints have been most profoundly signed with the cross when they have received the fruit of its sorrowful and victorious mystery, when they have received the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist gives us a share in the life of the Trinity, the love shared among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We were made to love and Christ’s love empowers us to love in union with God who lives to love.

One of the secrets of the saints is to imitate what they celebrate, to get involved in the mission of their Divine Master. As Christ gives Himself as food for the life of the world, so also do the saints. They live lives that are Eucharistic. The saints contemplated God’s goodness in prayer and then received His life in the Eucharist. You could almost say that they “eat and run.” Upon receiving Christ, they run to give themselves for the life of others. The self-giving of the saints is an act of thanksgiving for God’s gift of life.

Pope John Paul the Great, writing last March from his sick bed in a Roman hospital, said the Eucharist was a “formula for life.” The Church furnishes us with many examples of people who lived this formula.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, the second-century martyr and bishop, wrote to his fellow Christians telling them not to save him from being fed to lions. He wanted the teeth of the lions to grind him into a “pure loaf for Christ.” Ignatius was imitating the offering of Christ in the Eucharist by offering himself as a witness to the truth of his faith.

The holy layman and mountain climber Pier Giorgio Frassati, who died in 1925 at the age of 24, said: “Jesus visits me every day in Communion; I respond in the poor way I can, by visiting His poor.”

St. John Chrysostom spoke to those who would neglect the Eucharist as a formula for life: “Do you wish to honor the Body of Christ, then do not neglect it when it is naked. Do not render it honor here in time with silk fabrics, on the altar, and then neglect it outside, where it suffers cold and nakedness.”

The saints receive Christ in order to give Christ to others, to give life to others, especially to those who are suffering and on the margins of society, to those who feel untouched by love and friendship.

Communion with Christ in the Eucharist forms us into a community with God and the saints. The saints in heaven are caught up in the great mystery of love, and so they love us now by praying that we, too, will come to know the love that satisfies all human desire. God has given us Himself and He invites us to share His goodness with others. His goodness allows us to have friendship with Him and our fellow men and women now and throughout the ages.

Becoming holy is no private affair; rather, we love God and neighbor in community. In his play “The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc,” Charles Peguy wrote: “You do not save your soul as you save a treasure; you save it as you lose a treasure, by squandering it. We must save ourselves together. We must arrive together before the good Lord. What would He say if we arrived before Him alone, if we came home to Him without the others?”

The fame of this world means that a person is left alone to defend his turf, the adventure of love offered by Christ means a party in which “the more” is truly the merrier.



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