The Beatitudes are the subject of our Gospel today, and instead of focusing on all of the Beatitudes, allow me to hone in on just one: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Before I discuss cleanliness, or purity, of heart, a brief thought on the word ‘blessed.’ To be blessed means that the state of life is good. A blessed person has a good life. Goodness, however, is independent of feeling. We may feel happy. We may also feel sad. But if we are blessed, whether we are happy or sad, anxious or bored, we are good. Jesus tells us that these counterintuitive characteristics or qualities will make us good people.
Purity of heart we think of, I'm sure, as being chaste. There is more to it, though. I would like to quote at length from Father Jacques Philippe's book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart, in which he discusses this beatitude:
A necessary condition for interior peace, then, is what we might call goodwill. We could also call it purity of heart. It is the stable and constant disposition of a person who is determined more than anything to love God, who desires sincerely to prefer in all circumstances the will of God to his own, who does not wish to consciously refuse anything to God. Maybe (and even certainly) in everyday life, his behavior will not be in perfect harmony with this desire, this intention. There would undoubtedly be many imperfections in his effort to accomplish this desire. But he will suffer, he will ask the Lord's pardon for this and seek to correct himself. Following moments of eventual failure, he will strive to come back to his usual disposition of wanting to say ‘yes’ to God in all things, without exception...This goodwill, this habitual determination to always say ‘yes’ to God, in the great things as in the small, is a sine qua non for interior peace. (pp.16-17)
A substance that is pure has no foreign entities in it. There is a unity or wholeness to it. When we seek only to do God's will, our intention is simple and united, hence we are pure of heart. We are also considered a person of goodwill.
Purity of heart is a consoling beatitude. Why? Because it is independent of results. Again, we are focused on the intention. As long as we will or intend to prefer God's will to our own, even if we fail and do not do God's will, we will have a clean heart and will experience blessedness in this life and in the life to come.
Let us strive for goodwill. Let us desire to be good, peaceful people. If you are wondering how to foster desire, try simply saying the Prayer of Saint Francis, which opens, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace...”
Last weekend at all the Masses during the homily we read a letter from Cardinal Cupich about Renew My Church. The letter has been reprinted here in the bulletin. Once again, the grouping is: St. Juliana, St. Mary of the Woods, and Queen of All Saints Basilica. Unfortunately there are still many unknowns. At this time, however, I can assure you we will not be closing, nor will we be combining or losing our assets, particularly the funds from the To Teach Who Christ Is Campaign. The goal right now is for the three parishes to simply build relationships and get to know one another better. This can take place, as the Cardinal refers to in his letter, through shared retreats, missions, and reconciliation services, just to name a few activities. I do know some of this cross-parish activity already does take place, especially with our Senior Networking Group, so hopefully it's an endeavor that is not too foreign for us. I believe, generally speaking, that Renew My Church is an exciting opportunity. Putting all the cards on the table, so to speak, about how we "do parish" at St. Juliana can lead our Catholic community to greater vibrancy.
Today begins Catholic Schools Week, in which Catholic schools throughout the Archdiocese are being celebrated and highlighted. Several of our 8th grade students have been selected to give testimonials during the Masses this weekend. We will have a family Mass at 11am followed by an open house in our school. Special activities are planned for our school throughout the week, including the students versus faculty volleyball game with yours truly on the court! Thank you to our faculty, students, families, and all who support our school.
And thank you for all that you do now to make our parish vibrant. May God continue to bless us!
Yours in Christ,