by Fr Richard Heilman | June 24, 2018 9:54 AM
Today, I celebrate my 60th birthday. I am proud to say that I share my birthday with St. John the Baptist. My Coat of Arms reflects my desire, as well as my desire for all, to totally surrender to God and to live “in sync” with Him in a state of grace: The Latin on my Coat of Arms is from St. John the Baptist and is translated: “He must increase, I must decrease.”
John the Baptist is my hero. He led people to Jesus; he Baptized them; he pointed to the source of all meaning and purpose in our lives: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Today, I also climbed Mt. Everest. At least, that’s what it felt like, as I prepared for and then offered, this morning, my first Solemn High Mass. Fr. Z (Fr. John Zuhlsdorf) emailed me on Monday. It was a short email, and I can’t recall what else he said, but I do recall these challenging two words: “It’s time.”
I have offered the Low TLM for about a year and a half now, and I always felt that the Solemn Mass was a bridge too far. You see? I am 60, and I received no training in Latin and no training in the Traditional Latin Mass (Thank you modernist Catholicism … not!). It’s hopeful to see young seminarians and priests learning all of this now, but I felt like it would be too hard to teach this old dog new tricks. Fr. Z would always tell me, “It’s easy.” But I would always say to myself (and sometimes out loud), “Fine for you, as you were fluent in Latin in your 20s.” 😉
Nevertheless, I accepted Fr. Z’s challenge this past Monday, and I set my entire week aside to study. I still felt like I was a million miles away as of last night, and I ended up starting back into my cramming at 3:00am this morning.
Well, I did it … or, better yet, God did it. I wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t horrible. Fr. Z was my Deacon, and he guided me the whole way. After Mass, when blessing the altar servers, Fr. Z stopped to say to them, “Sometimes in life we face things that are incredibly frightening, but real men accept the challenge.” And then Fr. Z raised his fist to offer me a knuckle bump as he said, “Way to go, Father.” It felt great!
It’s true, we want to avoid things that are outside of our comfort zone. As we get older, it seems to get harder, because we get “set in our ways.” This is why Jesus said, “”Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Children are “teachable.” They learn a whole language at a very early age. Why? They trust their teachers, primarily their parents. We tend to lose a lot of that trust as we grow older. We tend to think we have all of the answers.
In the great Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land.” And, He gave us the prescription for discipleship: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (easy, once we love and trust the teacher).
Jesus called us to learn to be meek. Yet, in our times, meekness is seen as weak and spineless, but that’s not the biblical understanding.
In biblical times, wild stallions were brought down from the mountains and broken for riding. Some were used to pull wagons, some were raced, and the best were trained for warfare. They retained their fierce spirit, courage, and power, but were disciplined to respond to the slightest nudge or pressure of the rider’s leg. They could gallop into battle at 35 miles per hour and come to a sliding stop at a word. They were not frightened by arrows, spears, or torches. Then they were said to be “meeked.”
I was like that trained horse while Fr. Z offered each command during my first Solemn High Mass. But, this is exactly how we need to be with the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We need to TRUST God, and follow EVERY command!
“Sir, yes sir!” is the response of the soldier who, far from wild, understands the need for a tight, unified team who, together, form an impressive force capable of tearing down evil strongholds and building up the Kingdom of God.
Protect your “State of Grace” as your greatest treasure for, without it, you are the devil’s play toy.
Go to Confession frequently.
Pray the rosary daily.
Spend time every day in quiet contemplation, listening to the King tell you your next missions … you may have a “Man Cave” in your home … go home and make a “God Cave.”
Get to Adoration as often as you can.
Know your faith so you can defend it and lead others to it.
Let your joy and your strength of faith be enticing and compelling. Let your very life point to Jesus: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Get “meeked” so you can say along with St. Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
He must increase, I must decrease!
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