Thank God Ahead of Time

(February 9, 2020)

Bottom line: He kept saying, "Thank God ahead of time." Thus he became salt to heal and sustain others.

After I fractured my leg, I spent a night in a clinic. The nurse hooked me up to an intravenous solution. I asked her what it was and she said, "sodium chloride". Salt.

We take salt for granted but a certain amount is essential for life and health. Today Jesus tells his disciples, "you are the salt of the earth." What does that mean? How do you and I become salt for other?

To answer that question I would like to tell you about a remarkable man. Born Bernard Casey, he was a restless teenager. Leaving the family farm at age 17 he got a series of jobs: lumberjack, hospital orderly, prison guard and street car driver. In that job he witnessed a man stab to death a young woman. The brutal murder shook him up and made him think seriously about what he wanted to do with his life.

He entered the Milwaukee seminary but did so poorly in his studies they advised him to join a religious order. The Capuchins accepted him and he became a "simplex priest" which means he could celebrate Mass but not preach doctrinal sermons or hear confessions. Bernard received a new name - Fr. Solanus - and they assigned him as monastery doorman.

Many people would consider that a dead-end job, but Fr. Solanus didn't see it that way. He put his whole heart into it. People with problems began to come to him for prayer. Once a family brought a sixteen month old girl suffering from leukemia. They had exhausted all medical avenues. The child was so weak she could not walk up a step. Fr. Solanus listened to the parents, prayed with them and said, "Thank God ahead of time." He bent down, gave little Elizabeth a piece of candy and whispered, "You're going to be all right." When the parents took Elizabeth back to the specialists, they were shocked. All traces of the leukemia had disappeared.

This miracle illustrates Fr. Solanus' secret - how God made him salt for the earth. His secret was gratitude. He used to say that gratitude is the first sign of intelligence. He added that the worst ingratitude is atheism. I sometimes wonder how much of the modern denial of God comes down to lack to gratitude. Fr. Solanus observed, "ingratitude leads many to break with God and our neighbor."

I have to admit in the past few weeks I've done my share of grumbling and complaining. I've been helped by Fr. Solanus - now known as Blessed Solanus Casey. He had a difficult life and in the end suffered a long, painful disease. Still - as far as we know - he did not fall into ingratitude. He kept saying, "Thank God ahead of time." Thus Blessed Solanus became salt to heal and sustain others. Perhaps his secret lay in what Paul said in the second reading: "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified." Amen


Homily Resisting Happiness Week 3: Delayed Gratification - with Catholic Community Service Testimony (Audio homily for Third Sunday of Advent, Year A 2016)

Faith & Truth (Audio homily for Third Sunday of Advent, Year A 2013)

Spanish Version

From Archives (Fifth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):

2017: Hidden Wisdom Week 2- Salt and Light
2014: Where Your Synthesis is
2011: Kalos
2005: Less Noise, More Light
2002: When Salt Loses Its Taste
1999: A Sure Thing
1998: Do Not Grumble, My Brothers

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*

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Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

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