Bottom line: In the Third Scrutiny we pray, "Do not let the power of death hold them back we pray." The life of Robert Schuman illustrates how Jesus can overcome the power of death.
On this Fifth Sunday of Lent we hear about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. And today our catechumens will receive the Third Scrutiny (pre-baptismal exorcism). It contains these wonderful words: "Do not let the power of death hold them back."
To illustrate this exorcism, I would like to tell you about a man who did not let the power of death hold him back. His name was Robert Schuman. Born of a French father and Luxembourg mother in Lorraine, the disputed territory between Germany and France, Schuman was a true "citizen of Europe." In 1900, when he was only 14 years old, his father died. A decade later, his mother perished in a coach accident. With the death of his parents, Robert Schuman considered the religious life, but he decided instead to pursue the lay apostolate. As a young lawyer and politician, he combated corruption in the steel industries. In 1940 the Gestapo arrested him for anti-Nazi activities. Two years later he escaped from prison and joined the French underground.
After World War II Schuman surveyed the devastation of Europe. Instead of recriminations he helped France, Germany and Italy find a basis for lasting peace. On May 9, 1950, he made a public appeal for European unity. The appeal became known as Schuman Declaration; it led to the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community, eventually blossoming into the European Union. May 9 is now observed as Europe Day and the European Parliament declared Schuman the "father of Europe."
Because of the vision of Robert Schuman - and other Christian leaders such as Alcide De Gasperi and Konrad Adenauer - the European nations have achieved over six decades of peace and steady prosperity. Considering that continent's history of perpetual warfare, it seems a miracle. Robert Schuman could easily have given in to the power of death - as did many people who turned cynical after the horrors of World War II. But he did not. Schuman drew strength from daily attendance at Mass and in-depth study of the Bible. The diocese of Metz is promoting his cause for canonization. A few years ago they presented fifty thousand pages of testimony to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. I hope one day we will be able to say, "St. Robert Schuman, pray for us." Even now any Christian can ask God for a miracle in his name.
The greatest miracle, of course, is to overcome death. Jesus did that when he called Lazarus from the tomb. Robert Schuman did that by dedicating himself to the lay apostolate. As a Christian political leader he helped his generation stand against the power of death. In that spirit we pray the third and final exorcism over our catechumens: "Do not let the power of death hold them back." May we - like Robert Schuman - recognize that only One can defeat the power of death. The One who says to us, "I am the Resurrection and the Life."
Tragic news - Fr. Paul Dalton, one of the younger priests of the Seattle Archdiocese, died suddenly on February 29. Tacoma News Tribune has an article with a picture of Fr. Dalton. Please offer a prayer for the eternal rest of Fr. Paul and for God's consolation for his older brother, Fr. Jim Dalton and all the Dalton family - as well as the parishioners of Holy Disciples in Puyallup and Our Lady of Good Counsel in Eatonville.
Also urgent prayers for Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho and our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq.
From Archives (Year A homilies for Fifth Sunday of Lent):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (Fr. Paul Dalton, What we fear more than death, Recommended books for young person with doubts about his faith)
Homily of Fr. Peter West (Priests for Life; February 17, 2008; Holy Family, Seattle)
Times for Lenten Confessions
my bulletin column
SMV Bulletin (be patient - sometimes we have problems uploading)
Parish Picture Album
40 Days for Life (Everett, WA)
Q&A about Planned Parenthood
An Audio Lenten Retreat by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain (thirteen talks, 10 to 15 minutes long, on topics such as temptation, grudges, surrender, mercy, etc. - well worth listening to)
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