Thursday, November 22, 2007

"I'm very grateful for you" The Sermon of Fr. Dominic Radecki for Thanksgiving

(Website Editor's note: This sermon was recorded and posted with the permission of Fr. Dominic Radecki, CMRI)

I don’t usually give a sermon on Thanksgiving because it’s almost like preaching to the choir. You’re here to give thanks to God and be grateful. I just have some thoughts about St. Therese of the Little Flower and many of you who have heard of her autobiography have probably read it. There are very few saints that have written autobiographies, which tell you how holy they are and it’s kind of a powerful thing. In St. Therese’s case, her superior asked her to write it. I just have a few thoughts about it that I’d like to share with you.

She starts out saying: “Dearest Reverend Mother, it’s to you whom are my mother twice over, whom I am going to tell about the history of my soul. When you first asked me to do it I was frightened. It looked as if it meant wasting my spiritual energies on introspection but since then, it made it clear to me that all you wanted of me was plain obedience and in any case, what I shall be doing is only what will be my task for all eternity: telling over and over again the story of God’s mercies to me.”

I think today on Thanksgiving Day that should be our formal story, “God’s mercies to me.” “Our Lord’s love for me.”

“Before continuing I knelt down before Our Lady’s statue, which has so often assured us that the Queen of Heaven looks on our community with special favor, my prayer was that she would guide my hand and never let my hand write a single line that wasn’t as she wanted it to be. And after that, I opened the Gospels at random and the words my eyes fell on were these: ‘Then He went up on the mountainside, and called to Him those, whom had pleased him to call, so these came to him.’ There it all was, the history of my whole life, of my whole vocation, above all, the special claims Jesus makes on my soul. He doesn’t call people who are not worthy of it, no, just the people it pleases him to call. As St. Paul says: ‘God shows pity on those he pities, shows mercy for he is merciful, the effect comes from God’s mercy, not from man’s will. In the same way, God has chosen each one of us, he has given us unique graces.’ I have wondered why God has his preferences, instead of giving each soul an equal degree of grace. Why does he shower extraordinary graces on the saints, who had at one point been his enemies? People like St. Paul or St. Agustine, compelling them you might say, to accept the graces he sends them. Why when you read the lives of the saints, that there is some of them that Our Lord sees fit to holding his arms from the cradle to the grave? Never an obstacle in their path as they make their way up to him, grace still heading them on so that they never manage to soil the robe of their baptismal innocence.
Then again, I used to wonder about the poor savages and people like that who die, essential numbers of them, without ever so much as hearing the name of God mentioned. But Jesus has been gracious enough to teach me a lesson about this mystery simply by holding up to my eyes the book of nature. I realize then that all the flowers he made are beautiful, the rose in its glory, the lily in its whiteness, don’t rob the tiny violet of its sweet smell or the daisy of its charming simplicity. I saw that if all of these lesser blooms wanted to be roses instead, nature would lose the gaiety of her springtime threes. There would be no little flowers to make a pattern over the countryside. And so it is with the world of souls, which is His garden, He wanted to have great saints to be his lilies and roses but he made lesser saints as well and these lesser ones must be content to rank his daisies and violets, running through his feet and giving pleasure to his eye right then.”

And then she says something really sublime:

“Perfection of our holiness consists simply in doing His will and being just what he wants us to be.”

And it could not be put any better: “Holiness consists in doing in doing God’s will and being just what he wants us to be.” A father, a mother, a priest, religious, single person, husband, wife, whatever our vocation and doing it well. That’s all God wants of us.

“This too is made clear to me, that Our Lord’s love makes it seem quite as much in the simplest of souls as in the most highly gifted. As long as there is no resistance offered to his grace.”

God works in every soul and it’s our fault if we offer resistance but as long as there is no resistance to his grace his love is able to do the impossible. The whole point of love is making yourselves small. If you were all like the great Doctors of the Church, who have shed love around the Church by their brilliant teaching, people like St. Gregory the Great or St. Thomas Aquinas and all the other saints, there wouldn’t be much condescension on God’s part, would there?

“He has created little children who have no idea what’s going on and can only express himself by helpless crying. He has made the poor savages with nothing better than a natural outlaw to live by. These condemned to forgive his dignity, it will come into their hearts too, these are the wild flowers that delight him of their simplicity. This is where God shows his infinite greatness. The sun’s light that plays on the cedar trees…” (or redwood trees in California) “…plays on each tiny flower as if it were the only one in existence. And in the same way, Our Lord takes special interest in each soul as if there were no other like it.”

“Everything conspires for the good of each individual soul…” this is something else she says that’s sublime. Everything: The difficult times, the good times, the blessings, the sicknesses, the loss of our loved ones, whatever everything conspires for the good of each individual soul. “…just as a march of the seasons is designed to make the most insignificant daisy unfold its peddles on the day it’s born.”

I just wanted to share that with you. In closing, I’m just so grateful to God for my Catholic Faith and my religious vocation, my priesthood, my family, especially it’s unique having a twin brother and such a wonderful mother. Of course, as St. Therese said, for God’s love and mercy, which we are all so grateful for. For the most part, I’m very grateful to God for each one of you individually and for all members of Queen of Angles Parish. For your perseverance in the faith in spite of obstacles, your self-sacrifice and deep love for God. I know many people who have visited from all over the country and from Australia are just edified by your living your faith. It is just something special your loving God, knowing God and serving God and I’m extremely grateful for all of your assistance and prayers. The work I do is overwhelming, we’ve got a huge geographical area and really serious responsibilities and a mountain of work that all of you help in so many different ways, I’m very grateful for your assistance and your prayers. I’m truly blessed and fortunate, one of the most blessed and fortunate priests in the world.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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