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Fr. Paul: “May Christ Triumph in each of us in These Difficult Times”

Posted: April 6, 2020

By Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P.
Head Chaplain, Thomas Aquinas College
Homily, Palm Sunday Mass
April 5, 2020


All of us chaplains here, Fr. Buckley, Fr. Marczewski, Fr. David, and myself wish Our Lord’s peace to everyone.

Fortunately we can be united in spirit for this Holy Sacrifice through the help of the Internet, as we have this very strange beginning to Holy Week. Not having access to our churches, nor to the sacraments.

This major sacrifice we are being called to when the entire liturgical year reaches a wonderful climax in Christ’s triumph over sin and death.

So it is not as if this sacrifice is during our yearly celebration of St. Thomas’ day, or during the long stretch that follows after Pentecost, or even during the time of Christ’s birth.

But through Our Lord’s guidance of all things, He is asking this of us during the time of His passion. This time of spiritual desolation for us, taking place during the remembrance of His own desolation at Calvary.

Our Lord is giving us a sign to look to Calvary to find peace in the midst of our dismay, and hope in joining ourselves more closely to Him.

But Christ is also giving us during this time the example of His holy mother.

An alumna of the College, Wendy-Irene Zepeda, sent around a wonderful quote of St. Mother Teresa, speaking of the Virgin Mary’s astounding act of faith on Good Friday:

At the foot of the Cross, Our Lady saw only pain and suffering — and when they closed the tomb, she could not even see the Body of Jesus. But it was then that Our Lady's faith, her Loving Trust and Total Surrender were greatest. 

How Our Lady, at that moment when the tomb was closed, was completely cut off from Him. He was gone from her view, the stone sealing the tomb separating them completely. Not unlike the doors of our churches, and the separation from Christ’s presence in the Sacraments. And the intense desolation she must have felt, beyond anything we can imagine.

But it was then that Our Lady made the greatest act of faith that has ever been made by a human being.

And in her faith, Christ was triumphing, not only for her, but for the entire world, as she became the mother of all the faithful, and the Mediatrix of all grace.

So with closed churches and suspension of sacraments, let us see the possibility of imitating her in a way that has, perhaps in our lives, never before been possible. And during this Holy Week especially, seek to glorify Christ with a faith that will save not only our souls, but the souls of many in our families, in our country, and even throughout the world.

Reminding us of those words of St. Peter to his flock: Brethren: In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ ( 1 Pt. 1:6-7).

So may Christ triumph in each of us in these difficult times, as He triumphed in Our Lady at the tomb, in acts of faith that bring forth sanctification and salvation.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, and Consoler of the Afflicted, pray for us, that we might follow you in trust, in surrender, in standing faithfully with you at the Cross, and at the tomb, and so as one day to see Christ in the full glory of the resurrection.

Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P.
Thomas Esser (’18)

“It’s wonderful how, in the integrated curriculum, everything matches up. You’ll be reading one thing in language class, and then it will come up again in philosophy, and goes on to affect everything you read from then on. You get a deeper understanding of each discipline by seeing how they connect with the others.”

– Thomas Esser (’18)

Chino Hills, California

“I was moved and edified by your remarkable fidelity to St. Thomas Aquinas. Your academic program proposes an original way of training men and women capable of reading, thinking and interpreting tradition correctly.”

– Marc Cardinal Ouellet

Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops