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Renew the Face of the Earth: Bishop McManus’ Convocation Homily

Renew the Face of the Earth: Bishop McManus’ Convocation Homily

Posted: August 22, 2020


by the Most Rev. Robert Joseph McManus, S.T.D.
Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts
Mass of the Holy Spirit
Thomas Aquinas College
New England Convocation
August 22, 2020 


“Lord, send out your spirit and renew the face of the earth.”

Today, as we inaugurate a new academic year here at Thomas Aquinas College, we do so by celebrating the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit, imploring the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth. This morning, I would like to pose one question to focus my reflections in this homily, and that question is simply this: What role does the Church, who is our mother and teacher, expect us to play in the Spirit’s divine activity of renewing the face the earth by turning hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, pulsing with the love of Christ, the only Savior of the world? Allow me a few minutes to address that question.

We live in a world that is saturated with massive amounts of information that can be quickly accessed with one strike of a computer keyboard; but at the same time we live in a world that is sadly lacking in wisdom. There is a certain theological reason why in the Catechism of the Catholic Church the gift of wisdom is listed first in the naming of the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, for to be truly wise is to be like unto God Himself.

When I go around the Diocese of Worcester confirming my young people, I tell them that if they really want to be wise, they must learn the correct answers to the three most important questions in life:

  1. Where have I come from?
  2. Where am I going?
  3. How do I get there?

And the correct answers to these three salient questions are extremely important because they are at the heart of the Church’s proclamation of salvation. We come from God; we are going home to God; and we do this by encountering the person of the Crucified and Risen Christ, by falling in love with Him and by surrendering our intellects and wills to the salvific truth that Christ — and Christ alone — is our Way, our Truth, and our Life. A person may be highly educated and have all types of degrees after his or her name, but if that person does not know the end for which he was created, then that person cannot be truly wise, which is to say, that person cannot be truly free.

Thomas Aquinas College boldly identifies itself as an authentically Catholic institution that proudly and effectively introduces its students to the great Catholic intellectual tradition. I believe that the Catholic intellectual tradition can serve as a privileged way of assisting the Holy Spirit in renewing the face of the earth because the Catholic intellectual tradition is rooted in the truth that is attainable through the divinely bestowed gifts of faith and reason.

In this morning’s second reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, we heard these powerful and encouraging words: “In Christ you too were chosen; when you heard the glad tidings of salvation, the word of truth, and you believed in it” (Eph. 1:13). This Pauline proclamation begs the question whose answer has an enormous impact for all people for time and eternity. The question is: What is truth?

The Church has for two centuries raised and answered that fundamental question definitively: the Truth is Christ, the Word made flesh. As the Second Vatican Council teaches: “In reality, it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man becomes clear. Christ the Lord, Christ the new Adam … fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling” (GS, #22).

My dear friends, our culture desperately needs the light of Christ, the light of the new Adam, to dispel the prevailing ignorance and denial of the truth about the human person made in the image and likeness of God, created male and female, and called to a life of communion with others. In short, the light of Christ enriches our faith and illuminates our intellects, thereby helping to establish a culture of truth that acknowledges that love is more powerful than hate; that truth will always triumph over falsity; and that for those who love God everything works together for good.

For the last several months, Catholic Churches across our great country were suddenly closed because of the invisible but terribly lethal coronavirus. As a result, for weeks Roman Catholics could not receive the gift of our Eucharistic Lord in Holy Communion. This has caused deep, spiritual sadness. But we must not allow this prolonged spiritual fasting to be a complete loss. My prayer is that the Catholic community will reclaim a renewed love for the Mass, which is the source and summit of the Christian life. For it is in the reception of Holy Communion that we come to know existentially the profound theological truth that your patron saint, Thomas Aquinas, taught so beautifully in the hymn “O Sacrum Convivium”:

O Sacred Banquet, in which Christ is consumed, the memory of His passion is recalled, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelic Doctor of the Church, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen.

God bless you!



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