Vigilance and Prayer

(Homily for First Sunday of Lent, Year C)

All of you, no doubt, have seen old buildings being torn down to make way for something new. We can see it right now at Holy Family. Last April we bought the property adjacent to the main parking area. Several months later, we have finally obtained the permits to begin the work. It involves demolishing the ramshackle buildings and then hauling away the debris. I was amazed at how much junk – rusted lawn mowers, half-used cans of paint, old batteries, etc. – had accumulated over the years. The entire mess has to be taken away before we can dedicate the land to a good purpose.

Jesus tells us that something similar will happen with our world and our hearts before God can use them for his purposes. Jesus speaks about planetary changes, dismay falling on various nations and even of people dropping dead from fright. At the same time he says that his followers will stand up straight and lift up their heads.

You know, we can easily fail to see what is really happening in our world. The new technology in communication, entertainment and medicine is so dazzling that few people see the underlying rot. Events are moving at a dramatic pace. Consider:

-- In the last twenty-five years science has separated love from procreation to the point that we have laboratories containing thousand of frozen human embryos.

--The destruction of fully formed (but unborn) children has become an accepted feature of our society.

--Within only ten years the Internet has reached a high percentage of homes – and its most profitable product is pornography.

--The whole concept of family has sunk low enough that just last week a state supreme court felt free to dictate a new definition of marriage.*

People react to these changes in different ways: shock, anger, amusement, weariness. Jesus tells us that such reactions are dangerous to our souls. Instead, he calls for “vigilance” and “prayer.” God has allowed these things to happen, even the scandals in the Church and the disappointments in our individual lives. Why? It is a part of the “tribulations.” God has some demolition work to do before beginning a process or cleansing and purification. Only by prayer and vigilance can we open ourselves to God's purpose.

I have to say that I am disappointed so many people at Holy Family have stopped coming to their hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. I am going to make a bold proposal: that this Advent you begin again – or, if you have never made a Holy Hour, begin now. Many of you will say, “Impossible! This is the busiest time of the year.” But that is precisely the problem.

If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy. You need to cut some things out of your life. Maybe even some good things, for example: certain get togethers, shopping and decorating. And if you are involved in activities which may be harmful – like gatherings with alcohol, watching a lot of TV or spending too much time on the Internet – Jesus is unequivocal. He warns that the Day will surprise you like a trap.

Prayer. Vigilance. Those are the watchwords for this Advent.


*While the majority still have a gut reaction against things like homosexual marriage and cloning, few can really explain why they have those feelings. We are like an army deep in enemy territory with supply lines stretched thin. Without prayer and vigilance, we become easy targets for those who know how to use the media against us.

Versión Castellana

From Archives (Homily for First Sunday of Advent, Year C):

2012: Victim or Free?
2009: Fulfill the Promise
2006: Patience
2003: Vigilance and Prayer
2000: Keeping Focused

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Bulletin (Fr. Ramon Returns, Sharon Carriere, Letter from Brother Simon)

Pictures of Blessing of Animals for Living Nativity Scene at Paramount Theater

Deal Hudson on the Mess in Massachusetts


St. Mary of the Valley Album

(November 2009)

Pictures from Peru

(Aaron Howard with girls at Puno orphanage, Daughters of Charity in background)

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