The following is Fr. Jacob's Homily:
Your Excellency, Bishop Boland, Fr. Allen, Sister Mary of the Immaculate Conception, and Sisters, Dominican laity and friends, "Sing to the Lord a new song for He has done wondrous things." Fifty years of joy and thanksgiving to the Lord. Today's marvelous celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Dominican Laity Chapter of the Mother of God, gives us an occasion to look back and remember with joy all that has transpired in these fifty years of Lay Dominican life in the Diocese of Springfield, the Province of St. Joseph, and the Monastery of the Mother of God. It gives us an occasion to thank God with joy for the life and presence of the Dominican Laity today; and to look with joy at the future and the charisms of Our Holy Father Dominic, which we pass on to the next generation at the beginning of this Third Millennium in which the Holy Father has called for a New Evangelization. We are so blessed to have a Pope with a Dominican heart! Fifty years. Human beings are the only creatures of God who celebrate time. At least the only bodily creatures; I don't know if Angels celebrate their birthdays. But we do; we mark blocks of time to look back and see how it's all gone, and hopefully, like the one leper in today's gospel, to thank the Lord for the wonders He has done. That there has been and still is Dominican lay life a very devout and active Dominican lay life is truly wonderful. When we look back at our relatively short history, we can count 14 Prioress's (including one Prior, among them.) And 17 Spiritual Directors. The photos of the Prioress's certainly betray the difference 50 years makes, at least in fashion. The first nine, from Mary McGinnis to Norma Moreau are all donning their Sunday best hats; maybe a couple in their Easter Bonnets. Sarah Lee wore dresses like those in our anniverary calendar! Of course, it was a different world in 1951, more than fashions. It was a different experience of the Church. Pope Pius XII was the Supreme Pontiff; Karol Woytyja was 31 years old and a young priest; Fr. Henry Gallagher had become the new Chapter's first Spiritual Promoter, and would remain so for six years. Carl Sandberg had won the Pulitzer Prize, and I Love Lucy was premiered on our black and white televisions. The first members of the Dominican Laity were mostly women who had come through a decade of war; from Pearl Harbor, World War II, and even then, in 1951, the Korean War was going on. How many of the first members were widows or had sons or daughters who had died? How many of the women were housewives all their married lives, or had served in war-time industries as so many did across the country? The Churches were packed on weeknights for novenas, and Benediction, and Forty-Hours Devotions. Some Churches were still strongly ethnic and the sermons and prayers after Mass, and confession would have been done in French, Polish, or Italian. There was a spirit of prayer which sustained the daily spiritual lives of American Catholic women, unlike which we do not know today. Perhaps that spiritual fervor and grace helped to prepare the soil. But perhaps the greatest sowing of the seed of Dominican lay life was the nuns. On Sept. 8th, 1951, they celebrated their 25th anniversary of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Diocese of Springfield. On Sunday, the 9th of Sept. there was an out-door Holy Hour of Thanksgiving, presided over by Bishop Weldon. Five thousand lay people came to pray the rosary and adore the Lord in the Eucharist. This chapel and monastery were not yet built; but the 49 nuns lived crowded together in the large old wooden house on the hill. Perhaps the fruit of their prayers and sacrifices gave birth to the Third Order which bears their name, the Chapter of the Mother of God. For sure, it was the Lord Himself who wanted a chapter of Dominican laity; it was also Our Lady, I'm sure, who desired this chapter, as she desired this monastery; and it was St. Dominic who desired to pour forth his charism of contemplative prayer, study, and the ministry of the Word amongst a group of laity, women and men of faith, who would follow in his way of joyful preaching. These three, of course, The Lord, Our Lady, and Our Father Dominic saw the whole picture; they saw the world of 1951, as they saw the world of 2001, and they see all that lies ahead of us. The Dominican laity was sown in a time of war, a time of fervor and prayer, and it has continued to grow and be fruitful. It continues to provide for us in our day the spiritual tools, the spiritual graces, and the charisms of St. Dominic which are so needed and so rich in a time that is so needful and so poor. The charism of Holy Father Dominic is alive as ever. WE are blessed to have a dynamic and loving Master of the Order, elected last July in Providence, as the 86th successor of St. Dominic. The call to be holy preachers of the Word of God; faithful to the Truth; and bearers of its torchlight falls to each one of us, each in his and her own particular call and ministry in the Church. We must be on fire again with God's Truth. The Holy Father has said that the greatest need of the world today is to know Christ, the Incarnate Word, the fullness of Revelation, and the most awesome thing of all communion in God's very life. The passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the Truth the veritas which saves the world, yesterday, today, and for ever. And the truth is not a thing, but a person, Jesus Christ. This is our faith and our hope. And our world is in desperate need of both! I have never met an Albegensian; they no longer exist as a movement. But I meet Catholics seduced by the New Age Movement, having ears tickled with Buddhist and Hindu philosophy and practices; Religious promoting spirituality based on channeling and quasi-Sufi numerology; priests and bishops caught up in a cloud of dissent and anti-papal sentiment creating their own moral theologies, contraceptive mentalities, and false ecumenism; laity who are literally distraught because of the liturgical banalities and abuses they face in their parishes; and a culture of death woven into a popular secularism and all pervasive media that threatens the moral authority of the Church, while it denigrates Truth to subjective relativism and private feelings. We have been rightly shocked awake by the atrocities of terrorism and the destruction of innocent human life, but have the scales of blindness fallen? Do we know the truth that human life begins at conception and is precious and immortal, until natural death, and into Eternal Union with God, our true Destiny? The Dominican Laity, above all else, can not be blinded by the darkness that surrounds us. We live in an age in the Church unlike any other, and at a time in the history of America unlike any other. "In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." Like the poor man in today's gospel, we cry out for God's mercy for our leprous world to be healed. "Jesus, Master, have pity on us." This is our time to be Dominicans who listen intently to the Word of God and who know and love the Scriptures; who participate as often as possible in the celebration of the liturgy, because here the sin of our world is gathered on the paten and the suffering of our world fills the chalice and is united to that Act of love in which Christ gives His life so that sins may be forgiven. This is the time to pray the Rosary with a fervor we haven't called on before. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, has been begging us to do this for years. This is the time to study and know and love the truth revealed in Christ and entrusted to His Holy Church. This is the time to love the Church, and to call on our Heavenly Dominican Family to intercede for us: St. Thomas, St. Catherine, St. Rose, St. Martin, and above St. Dominic, light of the Church. This is the time to stand secure in faith, and to embrace in love all the peoples of the world, of all religions, colors, and ethnic heritage. In his homily at the end of the General Chapter, the Master of the Order said: "Let us always be conscious of our mission. Let us keep always in our mind and heart the true and profound needs of men and women. Let us walk on, poor, free, strong, and loving Christ." This is the Time. Time. We are here to celebrate it; fifty years old. We are here to, in a sense, preserve it, in the Time Capsule which we will bless and plant behind the outdoor rosary shrine, as a memorial of our time&our names and pictures, our constitutions, and prayer books, our certificates of profession; a video, a bible, rosary beads, and a statue of Our Lady. Forty items in all, which represent our time will be buried, for how long we do not know. Another day, in another time, will hopefully one day open the box and be amazed, perhaps, at the faith, the hope, and the charity of those Dominicans who lived in the early part of the 21st Century. Time. In Theology there are two words for time&in Greek. Chronos&this is chronological time the passing of moment to moment, day to day, year to year. This is the time I've been speaking of all this time, some would say for too long a time! The other time is Kairos&this is God's time, which is an Eternal NOW. In every liturgy we step out of Chronos and into Kairos, for the Sacrificial love of Christ once offered in chronos&2000 years ago, is present in Kairos, for this was the act of love of a Divine Person, the Eternal Second Person of the Triune God. And this act of love "this sacrifice" is made present on this altar each time we celebrate Mass. So let us offer in union with him, our selves, our lives, our chapter, our nuns, our Dominican Order, our families, friends, and loved ones&living and deceased; let us offer him our TIMES and all that we live these days given to us to preach that there is a God who loves us and calls us to Union with Himself in a Communion of Love which will never end, and in which we will know and love each other in Him. Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wondrous deed. Forever and ever. Amen.