Sunday, July 20, 2014

What in the World?

July 20, 2014 –– Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Wisdom 12:13, 16–19 / Romans 8:26–27 / Matthew 13:24–43
What in the World?

Expletives and swearing were nonexistent in my childhood home but there was a common idiom invariably used to express surprise or befuddlement or shock: What in the world....? I want to use that phrase as a springboard to a common thread in the three readings for today.

First, we might literally be asking What in the world is going on? The world news is not very encouraging. Iraq is in shambles. ISIS is killing Christians/minorities in Syria if they do not convert to Islam. Boko Haram is extending Islamic terror and death in Nigeria. Israel and Hamas not backing down. Russia is flexing its muscle. Malaysia Airlines loses another passenger jet, only this one was shot down. Our own country has more crises than we can handle, from children unleashed on our southern border to bitter social polarizations to political stalemates that only keep us trending into further polarization and weakness. Even locally we cannot escape the litany of recurring abuses and homicides. What in the world is going on?

In the midst of things like this (and world history tells us that the troubles of our world are nothing new), the Wisdom writer affirms that there is no god besides you.... your might is the source of justice.... In our weak and cynical moments we wonder, “what justice?” In that context it helps to remember that Peter writes in his second letter that the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men (this was Jesus’ point in the parable) ....The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (3:7,9). Because of his love, God’s justice is tempered with mercy. The Wisdom writer says it this way: with much lenience you govern us.... you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins. As long as we have “today” or “now” (2Cor 6:2) we can turn to God.

But what about the Church itself? Some want to blame the Church for their not turning to Jesus. Why in the world is there discouragement and confusion even in the Church? What about clergy who profane Holy Orders and bring shame on the whole Church? What about self-proclaimed Catholic politicians who seem to give far more loyalty to their secular constituency than to Jesus and the Magisterium? What about people who say they are Catholic but dissent from Church teaching? Jesus tells us that The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. The servants of the householder asked him, “Do you want us to go and gather the weeds?” The householder told them, “No, in gathering the weeds you might root up the good wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers to gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into the barn.”

There is something in us that wants justice now––when it’s directed at the other guy. We can look around in the Church and see things that do not match our expectations, and we want to clean house (because “problems in the Church are never caused by me!”). Yet in the context of God’s kingdom––even when there are weeds growing among the good grain––God says.... wait.

So, what are we to do while we wait? We are to attend to the field of our own heart. Invite the Holy Spirit to keep your own soil broken and soft and fertile so it will bear good fruit (the fruit of  the Spirit and not the fruit of the sinful nature that St Paul calls the flesh––see Galatians 5:19–24).  St Augustine observed, “Search within your heart for what is pleasing to God. Your heart must be crushed. Are you afraid that it might perish so? You have the reply: Create a clean heart in me, O God. For a clean heart to be created, the unclean one must be crushed.”

This points to a second thing we do while we wait. We pray. But prayer itself can bring another big question: How in the world do we know what to pray for? Well, we pray for the mess that our world is in. We pray for the crises in the Church because weeds are growing along with the good grain. Most of all, we pray for ourselves to remain faithful and to be transformed into the likeness of our Lord.

Still, when it comes to the details––the hard, nitty-gritty of praying, how in the world do we know what to pray for? The solution to this is in today’s epistle reading. Listen to it again:

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

God knows how weak we are in both mind and spirit. No one individual has God’s will and the Christian life figured out. We need the Church to teach and guide us. We also need the power of the Holy Spirit to do battle for us in ways that go beyond our comprehension. When we pray, we do not pray alone––the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.

Are you troubled and afraid as the world around us seems to spin out of control? Pray! Are you discouraged that there are people in the Church who do not seem to honor Christ and his Body? Pray! Are you stuck when you try to pray, feeling that you don’t know what to say or that your prayer will not make any difference? Pray! And remember that you do not pray alone.

What in the world is going on? Why in the world is there discouragement and confusion even in the Church? How in the world do we know what to pray for? We find the real answer to those questions is to trust God. Even if God gave us all the particular answers, we are powerless to do anything much. But when we pray, we join with the Father almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. We do not need to see it all. We do not need to understand it all. Our ultimate hope is not in the world. When we confess our Faith, I believe in God, the God of both justice and mercy.... the God whose Spirit intercedes for the saints (that’s everyone who belongs to Jesus) according to the will of God. this is the faith that overcomes. Let the force of this penetrate enter your mind and heart––the faith that overcomes the world.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Measure of Our Identity

Thursday: 17 July, 2014 –– Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 26:7–9, 12, 16–19 / Matthew 11:28–30
The Measure of Our Identity

The opening prayer for today asks for “the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ....” The first reading (Isaiah ) invokes much the same thing with a positive aspiration: Your name and your title are the desire of our souls.

This text from Isaiah recurs in the Daily Office in the Liturgy of the Hours and it has become one of my ongoing prayers. It reminds me to give care to how I am known––the measure of our identity.

Those who have known me through past the few decades are well acquainted with what was an obsession for bird hunting. This shooting sport and all that went with it consumed my spare time, my discretionary spending, and my outward appearance (all my neckties had a bird hunting motif, and I always wore a tie with my tweeds when I hunted). I kept a meticulous hunting journal, built a “shooting library” and decorated my home with upland art. (I did open this paragraph admitting an “obsession”).

About ten years ago there was a serendipitous incident that the Lord used to convict me of this. I was at a cultural event at Messiah College (where I had once been an associate pastor) and one of my former parishioners, whom I had not seen for over a decade, was there. When he saw me he came over with a big smile and handshake; the first words out of his mouth were: “Are you still chasing those pheasants?”

My inner heart heard the Holy Spirit ask a different question: After all these years, is this the first thing that comes to his mind about one of his former pastors? It’s the measure of our identity.

This was another occasion where I consciously invited the Lord to change my heart. I pray for the grace to be a person who, when I am encountered or come to mind, will remind people of the value of knowing and following Jesus Christ. Isaiah gives us this prayer: Yes, for your way and  your judgments, O Lord, we look to you. Your name and your title are the desire of our souls.

May this be the measure of our identity.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Eating to Live

June 22, 2014 –– Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Deuteronomy 8:2–3, 14b–16a / 1 Corinthians 10:16–17 / John 6: 51–58
Eating to Live

One of the many historical fiction novels by James Michener is the saga, Poland. Late in the unfolding drama he tells of a particular torture used by Nazis on their prisoners. After discerning the amount of nutrition a man needed to do manual labor and yet slowly starve to death, there was a desire to get more skilled labor from the better trained prisoners. This required more calories to keep their minds sharp, yet there was a problem: extra nutrition for skilled labor was also adequate to turn their blunted and docile minds to a level of awareness that made control more difficult. So the Nazis developed the “Control of Calories”, alternating five month cycles in which the prisoners were rotated back and forth between manual labor on a slow starvation diet and giving the extra nutrition to make them more productive for specialized tasks. This pattern was maintained until the physical body was so broken that death was inevitable, but it extended their length of productivity.

We live in a diabolical world that would do the same thing to us spiritually. The devil doesn’t care if we get a tiny bit of spiritual nourishment on occasion; this can deceive us into thinking we are spiritually healthy. But one thing is sure: the powers of hell do not want people feeding regularly on the kind of nourishment that was unleashed in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

One way to look at the history of the Eucharist is the ages-long battle that has been raged against this mystical gift of our Lord. As Jesus laid the foundation through his teaching for what was to come––and today’s Gospel is at the heart of it––there was immediate disgruntlement and rejection. In the early years of the Church there was gossip in the Roman Empire that Christians were cannibals, a misunderstanding of the Eucharist that provided one more reason for persecution. Once the Church was established, the devil attacked from the other direction, trying to spread the idea that few people were worthy to partake of such a holy gift. Still later, in the aftermath of the Reformation, the consensus of the Eucharist as the physical presence of Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ was splintered so that today many Christians consider Communion only symbolic and even optional. Many sincere Christians argue that we are to get our nourishment mainly from personal prayer and “feeding” on Scripture. To use the words of our Lord responding to another issue, You ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone (Matt 23:23). The devil does not want people to have a healthy spiritual diet.

The Eucharist continues to be a stumbling block. Many misunderstand why non-Catholic Christians are not invited to partake. We need to understand that what the Church teaches today about the Eucharist has been handed down since the earliest days of Christianity. This is what Justin Martyr wrote in the mid-second century (within fifty years of the Apostle John’s death):

This food we call Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus. For the apostles in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, thus handed down what was commanded them: that Jesus, taking bread and having given thanks, said, "Do this for my memorial, this is my body"; and likewise taking the cup and giving thanks he said, "This is my blood"; and gave it to them alone.... (italics added)

With this Feast Day the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is also known as Corpus Christi (which translates from Latin to "Body of Christ"). This feast originated in France in the mid-thirteenth century and was then extended through the whole Church to its current prominence. On this day the Church calls us to focus on two manifestations of the Body of Christ: the Holy Eucharist and the Church. Of course, every Mass directs our attention to the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Christ in it. Today we want to be explicit and embracing of what this means.

When we respond to a “Catholic altar call” ––that’s a great way to think of coming forward to receive Jesus––we are participating in something that goes back to the very beginning of the Church. This is such a core truth that the Eucharist is called, explicitly, a sign of our unity in faith (which is why those who do not share this belief with us are not invited). As St Paul writes to the Corinthians, Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

This became a catalyst for my decision to leave my former faith community––a decision that was hard and meant many losses that were dear to my wife and me––and embrace that which was from the beginning. I had many good things in my former tradition, but the One Thing it could never offer me was the One Thing that Jesus had given his Church from the beginning as a sign of unity and a source of divine power––the Eucharist. To feed on the True Bread of Heaven I had to come to Mother Church. And yet even with that understanding and the major step of new commitment that we made, I confess that I do not always feel caught up to heaven at every Mass. Even attending the altar, I sometimes have to fight a wandering mind. We are all in a spiritual war. As we struggle, Satan does not want us to get full nourishment.

If we only look at the physical setting, our faith can falter. How often do we not “feel” like coming to church? How often do we come and then leave complaining about something we did not not like? St. Francis said that with the eyes of the flesh we can only see bread and wine, but with the eyes of the Spirit and faith we can look further and see the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. That should be our prayer in every Mass. In spite of the devil’s intention to starve us spiritually, we are being offered the very banquet of heaven. This is my body..... This is my blood. We need to eat to live.

"But it's so repetitive," critics say. "It is so mechanical. It gets so boring just doing the same thing..." In that context I think of my marriage: The one woman that I have lived with and looked at for 42 years only becomes more beautiful in spite of passing decades. The same woman, the rather repetitive "mechanics" of living and loving.... why doesn't it become boring? 

Love is what keeps "repetitive" and "mechanical" from displacing beauty and wonder. And like little children who cannot get enough of a father's playful attention, we go into the mystery of Communion with the need to say to our heavenly Father, "Do it again, Daddy, do it again."

This is not boredom with the "same old thing." This is entering the Mystery that cannot be exhausted.  This is the miracle of partaking of the very Presence of our Lord, the One who in his divinity took on our humanity so that we, in our humanity, can be nourished into his divinity. Until he comes, we need to do it again and again––to feed on our Lord again and again. Our spiritual nourishment is at stake.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Glory of the Son of God

June 1, 2014 –– 7th Sunday in Easter
Acts 1:12–14 / 1 Peter 4:13–16 / John 17:1–11a
The Glory of the Son of God

Most of my life has been directed at understanding and proclaiming Scripture. The Bible is a deep mine of treasures that a lifetime cannot exhaust. There is good reason that the Church gives prominence to the “Liturgy of the Word.” When we listen to Scripture, we hear the voice of God.

A thoughtful homilist could find enough material in this priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17 to preach weekly for a whole year. I wish I had my “evangelical forty minutes” for this homily! There is a theme of the glory of God that extends from Genesis to Revelation, and it is centered in what Jesus is saying in this prayer.

Jesus, talking to the Father, is aware of the glory that I had with you before the world began....  St Paul says that Jesus lay that glory aside in his Incarnation (in the form of God.... but emptied himself––Phil 2), and yet here Jesus is anticipating not only the restoration of that glory, but the “joy” he had in going to the cross (Heb 12:2 ) was his knowledge that he was opening the door to that glory for us.

It’s my assumption that most of us think of Jesus as we picture him during his earthly ministry with his disciples or maybe on the cross in his passion. Almost never, I would think, do we actually try to imagine Jesus as John describes him––glorified––in the book of Revelation:

I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw.... one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.  (And then this disciple who was so close to Jesus says) When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead (1:13ff).

Having a fuller, more complete vision of Jesus in our minds does a couple of things. First, being aware of Jesus in his glory affects our worship.There is a reason we join with the host of heaven in saying holy, holy holy. When we acclaim our faith and devotion through the Agnus Dei as the Eucharist is elevated, we need to be able to “hear” the assembled multitude around the throne of God saying, Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! (Rev 5:12).

This is only augmented by a second amazing facet of Jesus and his glory. When the Word took on human flesh in the Incarnation, there was a fusion of the glory of God with humanity. The Incarnation is forever––Jesus retains his humanity in heaven. And because the glorified Jesus has ascended to heaven, he goes ahead of us and takes us who are in him––in his Body (the Church) ––there with him!

We know––or we should––that as we follow Jesus in this broken world, we share in the sufferings of Christ (as Peter expresses it in his letter). Christians are even encouraged to rejoice in those sufferings because, as we follow Jesus, we are heading to the same place where he has gone. Jesus suffered and was then glorified. We who suffer with Jesus have the promise of being glorified. Remember, we are all called to be saints!

And so Jesus prays in today’s Gospel: I am praying for.... those whom thou hast given me, for they are yours (Father); and everything of mine is yours, and everything of yours is mine, and I am glorified in them. We are destined for glory!

St Paul tells the Romans that Christians are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son (8:29). That is why our life even now is to be “distinctive”––holy. Because Jesus has gone ahead of us into glory.... because even now the Spirit of Christ is changing those who belong to him into his likeness from one degree of glory to another (2Cor 3:18).... because of the hope we have as Christians––Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col 1:27), we are called to live every day with the glory of Jesus as our highest focus.

Hear the Spirit of God speak to this through St Paul: If then you have been raised with Christ, (this is what Jesus is praying about in today’s Gospel) seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (this is the reality of the Ascension and the setting of the book of Revelation). Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (this is what it means to live distinctively for Jesus). Why?! For you have died (this is what baptism means), and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Col 3:1–4). I say it again: as we follow Jesus we are destined for glory.

This is our hope. The glory of the Son of God is a “big deal.” This is our Faith!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

May 11, 2014 –– 4th Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14a, 36–41 / 1 Peter 2:20b–25 / John 10:1–10

The fourth Sunday of Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday. One of the oldest paintings of Christ in the Roman catacombs represents Jesus carrying an injured, straying sheep gently on his shoulders back to the sheepfold. Jesus is our Shepherd―and he tells us so himself in today's Gospel.

We are like sheep. We run after wrong things. There's a line in the Old Testament written by Isaiah that says: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6). If we are honest, we know that we need a Shepherd. We want an “abundant life,” but it seems so elusive. People do not seem to realize that our most basic longings are distorted by bring cut off from God. Although God has a right to own us because he created us, he gave us the option of freedom.... and we all rebelled and ran away.  Peter tells us (in his first letter) that in response, God chose to send his own Son to seek and redeem us––at a terrible cost―at the cost of his own life (1Pet 2:24–25).

Sometimes a shepherd notches the ear of a lamb born to his flock to show rightful ownership (we can see this in analogy with baptism). If the lamb later wanders away, the shepherd searches near and far to get that lamb back. He may even find it a long time later―not a baby lamb, but a grown sheep for sale at an animal auction. The shepherd recognizes his mark on that sheep's ear. He goes to the auctioneer and says, "I can see the mark. That sheep is mine." The auctioneer says, "Listen, you must bid and pay just like anybody else." So the shepherd bids and pays in order to get his own lamb. He now has a double right to own this sheep: from birth and from redemption. God wants to be our Shepherd. Because he is both our Creator and Redeemer––he has paid the blood of his own Son in order to redeem us––we are doubly his.

God has chosen to be our Shepherd. When we are able to see that trying to live on our own terms only gets us more and more lost, and when we are able to see that God has sent his Son to seek and to save what was lost (Lu 19:10)―that he has bought us off of Satan’s auction block with his own blood―we can know that Jesus is our Shepherd.

We need to remember that we are sheep. Unless we listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice, we will do stupid things. Even with normal and good things, we get stubborn and foolish about having our own way. One sheep farmer tells of having to take a few days off from other work every spring to look for sheep. When asked why he would have to look for sheep on their own home, he said that whenever a pregnant ewe goes into labor, she immediately sits down. But if she is facing downhill when she sits, she will stay in that direction, fighting against gravity to push the lamb out of the womb. If no one helps her, she will die in that position rather than simply turn around. Every night his family has to carefully count the pregnant sheep. When even one ewe is missing, the whole family goes out to search for her and then bring her home.

When we turn to Jesus (that’s repentance) we find that he leads us into his “sheepfold.” The fold is an enclosure shepherds use to keep their sheep safe. There is only one way in, and the shepherd guards it so only his sheep can safely be inside. John tells us that Jesus said, I am the gate for the sheep.... I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved (Jn 10:7, 9). But there is an ongoing response we need to make if Jesus is truly our Good Shepherd―if we are truly his sheep; Jesus also says his sheep follow him because they know his voice (v4b).

As Christians we need to have our ears tuned to hear our Shepherd’s voice. Instead of stubbornly trying to go our own way, let’s admit the humbling truth: I need a Shepherd.... I need to follow Jesus.

Do you hear the Good Shepherd’s voice? The Lord Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, and his sheep hear his voice.

Listen.... the Good Shepherd is calling you.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Resurrection Difference

April 19-20, 2014 –– EASTER VIGIL / EASTER SUNDAY
The Resurrection Difference

The Lord is risen, Alleluia! He is risen, indeed!
Praised be Jesus Christ––now and forever!

Every Sunday is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. This is the foundation of Christian Faith. Yet Easter itself is the pinnacle. There is no higher or greater celebration in the Church. It is right and good to come to worship on this high and holy Feast.

Each week we confess our Faith. Usually it’s in the words of the Creed: He.... rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. But who really gives the Scriptures a lot of thought in our high-tech, information-saturated and fast-paced culture? The truth is that too many of us actually believe that religious faith is peripheral. We probably would not say that outright, but the way we live shows what we really believe. For too many, church is an add-on––something to do on a special occasion or when it’s convenient (with nothing else “more important” demanding our time). How is your life different because Jesus has been raised from the dead?

The Faith of the Church is that Jesus is alive! The Son of God who died a horrible death on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven came back from the dead. Jesus is alive! The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything about the way we understand our world and live in it. St Paul tells the Colossians: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (3:1–2). The resurrection changes the nature of death. It changes the course of human history. It changes the meaning of life. It changes human values. The resurrection means that God’s promise of a new world has already been set in motion. What we see in this world––and what we’re tempted to make the most important things in our lives––is on its way out.  A new way of life based on resurrection is on its way in.

A wonderful illustration of this is in the first Narnia story by C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In that story, Aslan the lion (who is a Christ figure) dies for the treacherous Edmund, but then comes back to life. Explaining it to Edmund's sisters, Susan and Lucy, Aslan says, "....when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, ....Death itself would start working backwards." This is a great way to understand our Faith: death itself working backwards. That is what Christians believe.

We need to renew our faith again and again. We live in a world that inundates us with lies, telling us that possessions and pleasure are the most important things. We come to church, yes, to honor and worship our Lord, but we do that best when we are pulled into the reality of what Jesus has done for us: Christ died for our sins and is risen to give us new life.

At Friday’s Celebration of the Passion of the Lord it was my privilege to bring the Blessed Sacrament back from the place of repose. As I walked to the sanctuary carrying the ciborium I was aware of the incredible Mystery: the Jesus who died on that Friday so long ago is alive. In a way that goes beyond our understanding, he is here with us in the Eucharist, and he indwells every person who is born of the Spirit. How often do you stop and think, The risen Son of God lives in me!?

One way to look at this is with a simple question: If it could be proven that the resurrection was a hoax––no resurrection, how would your life be different than it is now? Are you living in the reality that Jesus is alive!? Maybe some of you need to invite him in a fresh way to live his life in yours. Christians are people who are different because Jesus is alive.

So, I ask again: How is your life different because Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead?

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Cross of Jesus Christ

April 18, 2014 –– Friday of the Passion of the Lord
Isaiah 52:13–53:12 / Hebrews 4:14–16; 5:7–9 / John 18:1–19:42
The Cross of Jesus Christ

One of the Christian writers who helped form my early Evangelical Faith once said, “Real preaching makes people feel the nails and the thorns.” This is right not only for the pain Jesus himself experienced for us, but also figuratively for ourselves. The cross is at the core of our Christian Faith. Any time we let ourselves drift too far from a “cross consciousness” we are going in a spiritually dangerous direction.

We should “refresh” our personal faith often. Reflecting on some basic perspectives is one way to reinforce our Christian commitment. I offer these:

When we sin (disobey God), we cause an upheaval in the nature of all creation that causes death.

The cross and death of Jesus shows us the true nature of perfect love confronting sin.

Every time I choose something that is in conflict with God and his character of holiness and purity and selfless love, I join my voice to those who scream, Crucify him!

There is not a day––not one moment––that I do not need the grace and mercy and forgiveness that Jesus made possible when he died on the cross.

And so we say with St Paul, May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14a).

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