Rev. Thomas J. O’Hara, C.S.C., Provincial Superior of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers, preached the following homily at the Final Vows Mass of Adam Booth, C.S.C., and Patrick Reidy, C.S.C., on Saturday, September 7, 2013 from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Learn more about the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience that they professed.
My brothers and sisters: How blessed are we to be in this Basilica today as our two young brothers, Adam and Patrick, publicly profess their Final Vows within the Congregation of Holy Cross. Adam and Patrick: our own Holy Cross Constitutions describe well what you are doing today. Constitution 5 states that your vows essentially are an act of love for the God who first loved you. Further our constitutions remind you that this love is not kept solely within you, for your love is to spill over into service of your brothers and sisters. When you today profess your final vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience before God and all of us, paragraph 45 of the constitutions remind you that you are to be “prophetic signs as sojourners in this world, living your lives in such a way that you call into question the fascinations of our world: of power, pleasure and wealth. “
You have already begun that journey, that sojourn, in Holy Cross. Adam, your sojourning has taken you from your native England to serve in Holy Cross parishes in Mexico and the US, in the South Bend area working with children grieving the loss of loved ones and providing crisis financial counseling to individuals struggling financially, and on this campus guiding your young brothers at the Old College program, and now serving Holy Cross and St. Stanislaus Parish in South Bend.
Pat, born in New York and raised in Colorado, your sojourn in Holy Cross has led you to teach in Uganda, to serve the marginalized in Portland, Oregon, mentoring at-risk students in South Bend, Indiana, serving the sick in a hospital in Colorado, leading retreats on this campus, serving parishioners in Arizona and Mexico, and now guiding the residents of Keough Hall on this campus where you serve as Rector.
You have both been called and you have served well in your soujorn, but the constitutions call us not just to be sojourners in life, but to be prophetic sojourners. To be a prophet, to challenge by words and more importantly by actions is not easy. In the first reading you chose today, the prophet Elijah found being prophetic to wear him down. In frustration he said to the Lord “take me, take my life.” Yet the Lord would have none of it, saying get up and eat and continue your journey. The Lord then reminded Elijah that he would accompany him on his journey. And that is how you are both challenged and assured today. Your sojourn, your journey will not always be easy and there will be moments when you will feel like Elijah saying “enough, I can’t continue any more”.
In those moments, listen to the spirit of the Lord who will speak to you in the silence of your hearts saying “Get up and eat and continue the journey”. And what to eat that will nourish you? Today as you publicly proclaim your vows and your commitment to live prophetic lives you will be nourished at this altar partaking of that which most nourishes us on our journey, the Body and Blood of Christ. As our constitutions remind us in paragraph 27 it is in the sharing of the bread and cup that we are fortified for the journey. My brothers, may you always have the spiritual insights to listen to the silence of your heart to hear the Lord beckon you to take of his Body and Blood so as to continue your journey as prophetic sojourners.
Yes, being prophetic as you sojourn is not easy but the gospel you chose to be read today reminds you that you did not choose this role, you were chosen for the role. And in the second reading you chose, St. Paul reminds us you were chosen despite your weaknesses, doubts or struggles. For as true Holy Cross men we know that when we face the cross in our own lives, it is there we are ironically empowered to move forward with confidence. With the power of Christ within you, today you walk, you sojourn in the footsteps of that great band of men who walked before you, the band we call the Congregation of Holy Cross.
Because Christ walks with us, we dare to walk with others. Our Holy Father recently in Brazil for World Youth day echoed the same theme. He said to the Bishops of Brazil, “We need a Church capable of walking at people’s sides, of doing more than simply listening to them, a church which accompanies them on their journey. Unless we are capable of winning people’s hearts, of walking with them in the night and dialoging with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness, what hope can we have for our own present and future journey?” And to the millions of youth assembled there he said “Do not be afraid to go and bring Christ to every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest and most indifferent. Because Christ walks with us, we can walk with others in their struggles, in their desire to know the Lord. “
Adam and Pat, as you listen to the wisdom of the scripture readings, our own constitutions and the words of our Holy Father, you will now make these final vows, committing yourselves to be prophetic sojourners. As you make these vows you are surrounded by your families who first lovingly taught you about the ability to walk with the Lord, by your friends who have walked with you along the way, by your brothers and sisters in Holy Cross and by the men of your province who beckon you to walk with this great band of men that we call the Congregation of Holy Cross. We thank you for your willingness to profess these vows today. And all of us, your families, friends and Holy Cross pledge to pray for you so that each day you may get up, eat of the sacred meal and continue your journey as prophetic sojourners. God bless you and guide you each step of that journey.