His Excellency Archbishop Raymond L. Burke
Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
Homily at the Baccalaureate Mass of the Holy Spirit
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
The account of the building of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9) makes clear to us what results when the heart of man turns away from God and becomes full of itself. After the great purification of man's sinfulness through the Flood and the salvation of Noah and his family, who were just (that is, whose hearts belonged to the Lord), man once again turned away from God, thinking to design his own salvation, "a tower with its top in the sky," instead of finding his salvation in a heart given totally to the Lord.
When man's heart presumes to find its joy and peace apart from God, apart from the Divine Heart, filled with love of man and thirsting for man's response of love, the result is Babel, a deadly confusion which divides man within himself and from the other, which leaves man isolated and wandering without a home. Man no longer speaks a language which makes him one with God and his neighbor. Man's heart is restless; it is without peace and joy.
The situation of the people attempting to build the Tower of Babel is not unfamiliar to us. How often, when we want to do what pleases us, to do what we think will make us happy, while resisting the sacrifice of doing what God asks of us, do we turn our hearts from God, pursuing our own desires with stubborn pride and ending up isolated from God and one another, lost in our own selfish pursuits and wandering without rest in a land of confusion and error? In the account of the Tower of Babel, we recognize the story of our own stubborn pride, our personal sinfulness and our sinfulness as a people who refuse to surrender our hearts to God, in Whom alone we find the truth and love which give order, joy, and peace to our individual lives and to our life as a people.
One has only to think of the violence which marks the life of our nation to see the result of our refusal as a people to respect the law of God, which teaches us the inviolable dignity of innocent human life at every stage of its earthly pilgrimage; the integrity of the faithful, indissoluble, and procreative union of man and woman in marriage as the irreplaceable first cell of the life of society; and the unconditional respect for man's conscience, man's relationship with God, and its free exercise. The unceasing destruction of the life of our unborn brothers and sisters in the womb, the growing acceptance of the so-called "mercy-killing" of our brothers and sisters who, in truth, have the first title, without boundary, to our protection and care; the artificial generation of human life so that it can be destroyed for the purposes of our experimentation; the unrelenting attack on marriage and the family through our refusal to recognize the truth of human sexuality, male and female, especially in its essentially procreative nature; and the ever more audacious attempt to violate the very relationship of man with God in his conscience leave us in a deadly confusion and error, and are destroying us as a nation.
The Work of Our Salvation
Christ stands in our midst. Christ seated in glory at the right hand of the Father is alive for us in the Church. From His glorious pierced Heart, thirsting for our love, He unceasingly and immeasurably pours out divine mercy and love for us in the Church: in her teaching, in her Sacraments, and in her discipline. He exclaims to us: "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink" ( John 7:37).
Christ invites us to surrender our hearts to Him and to find in His glorious pierced Heart the purification of our stubborn pride, and the inspiration and the courage to love as He loves, purely and selflessly. In the only safe harbor for our hearts, which is His Sacred Heart, Christ gives us the gift of His own Spirit, the Holy Spirit who purifies us of sin and inspires in us every good and holy thought, word, and deed. The Holy Spirit, dwelling within our hearts, makes them like the Heart of Jesus, so that from our hearts there flow "rivers of living water" ( John 7:38) for all our brothers and sisters, without boundary, for the transformation of a culture of sin and death into a civilization of love and life.
As St. Paul teaches us in the Letter to the Romans, the Holy Spirit is ever at work within us and in the whole of creation for our salvation and the salvation of the world. The work of our salvation is a great struggle against the forces of evil, which the Holy Spirit alone can sustain in us and in our world, lest we turn again, in our pride, to building towers of confusion and error, destroying ourselves within and scattering us as a people. But the Holy Spirit indeed sustains the work of our salvation, inspiring in us the faith in God and the prayer to God, which dispel the darkness of confusion and error, and unite us to one another in pure and selfless love.
Before the situation of our own sinfulness and of the great evils which beset us as a people, we are filled with hope, for the Holy Spirit, poured forth from the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus "comes to the aid of our weakness" and "intercedes with inexpressible groanings" for us in all our needs (Rom. 8:26). We have the sure hope that, if we give our hearts into the heart of Jesus, ever open to receive us, the Holy Spirit will melt the stubbornness of our pride and make our hearts meek and humble, like the Heart of Jesus, docile in doing whatever Our Lord asks of us. We are certain that, thanks to the dwelling of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, the "living waters" of divine mercy and love will reach our brothers and sisters, especially those in most need, and will indeed reach and transform our world.
Our Christian Hope
The celebration of the Holy Mass on the occasion of the Commencement of Thomas Aquinas College gives concrete focus to our Christian hope. We celebrate all that the Holy Spirit is working within the hearts of our beloved graduates to dispel the darkness of confusion and error, and to bring to our world the right order of divine truth and love. We celebrate the great gift of Catholic education, of education inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit, in their lives. We pray for them that, as they have been educated, as they have been led forth from the confusion and error of pride into the way of truth and love of the Heart of Jesus, so they will continue on that way, their hearts one with the Heart of Jesus, and thus be fountains of "living water" for the salvation of our world.
Our Christian hope which, in a special way today, finds its focus in our beloved graduates, in what they have learned and in what that knowledge means for their future and the future of our world, opens our eyes to see once again the great good of a truly Catholic education. Our Christian hope inspires in us today prayer for God's continued blessing upon Thomas Aquinas College, so that it will always be a school of the Holy Spirit, a school in which the Holy Spirit is steadfastly at work in the great struggle for the salvation of all who make up the College's community and for the salvation of our world.
The Holy Spirit works within us and in our community for our salvation, most powerfully of all in the Eucharistic Sacrifice in which we are about to participate. The Holy Spirit makes present once again for us the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary by which alone we are saved; the glorious Heart of Jesus, pierced on Calvary by the Roman soldier's spear, pours forth ever anew the "blood and water" of His life (John 19:34). Through His Eucharistic Sacrifice, Christ, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, invites us to place our hearts into His Heart, to be cleansed and inflamed for love of God and of our neighbor.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, accompanies us now, drawing us with all our needs and the needs of the world to her Divine Son with the maternal counsel, which is inscribed over the main door of this chapel for us to read as we leave the House of God to go into the world of our daily activities: "Do whatever He tells you" ( John 2:5). Drawing our hearts to her Immaculate Heart, she counsels us with motherly love to give our hearts completely into the Heart of Jesus as He offers His life in pure and selfless love of God and of all men. With Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, let us give our hearts completely to Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Eucharistic Sacrifice.
The glorious pierced Heart of Jesus will now receive our hearts and nourish them with the gift of His own Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. He will nourish the life of the Holy Spirit within our souls for the struggle which is, at once, both our way to happiness on this earth and our way to perfect happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven, the struggle which conquers pride and which follows in all things the counsel of our Blessed Mother: "Do whatever He tells you."
Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, was the principal celebrant and homilist at the Thomas Aquinas College 2010 Baccalaureate Mass.
“One of the things I’m most grateful for is the attitude the College instills toward learning, an attitude of not being afraid to try something that most people would say is difficult, and instead working through it.”
– Regina Sweeney (’97)
Mother of Eight