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State Chaplin 2017 - 2018

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

August 2017

Last month, I wrote about Ordinary Time, and how the term “ordinary” can be misleading. I concluded by saying that if we really understood what was happening at Sunday Mass on a deeper level and learned how to participate in it more and more fully, we would never think of any time in the Church year as ordinary in the usual sense of the word (plain, unremarkable, etc.).

I had the privilege of attending the Supreme Convention in St. Louis at the beginning of this month, and it highlighted for me the importance of rediscovering not only the greatness of our Order and the astounding charitable works that we do (over $177M in donations and over 75M volunteer hours in 2016!), but also the tremendous beauty and depth of our Catholic Faith and the Mass in particular.

Maybe you saw some of the coverage of the convention on television. If so, you probably witnessed the grandeur of the liturgical celebrations. Even though I have celebrated Mass almost every day since I was ordained a priest, it was powerful to be present at those events and to be swept up into the Sacred Mysteries. When I think about the celebration of the Mass, I try to remember that it is an event. There is something that actually takes place there. It isn’t like going to a play and watching a story unfold, knowing that it’s just a story and the characters on the stage are just actors. It isn’t like witnessing a Civil War reenactment, even though the people involved may make the scene seem quite real.

The Mass is different. The Mass is more than symbolism, and it does more than tell a story. That which is symbolized actually becomes present, and the story that is being told is a historical narrative that unfolds more and more with each celebration of the Mass.

What becomes really and truly present in our midst at each celebration of the Mass is the event of Calvary. Because the Sacrifice of Calvary (i.e., what Jesus offered on Calvary: His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity) becomes present––sacramentally, not symbolically–– under the appearance of bread and wine on the altar, it is just as if we are standing at the foot of the Cross. We are every bit as present at Calvary as if we had stood there two thousand years ago. When we receive Communion, we are profoundly united to Jesus’ sacrifice.

This is so important and wonderful because it means that we can participate in that event in a real way, and not have to imagine or spiritualize our participation. Then, because we are real participants, there is a real impact on our day-to-day lives. And that’s why the story continues to unfold with each Mass. It’s the story of our salvation, and our salvation is being worked out more and more each time we celebrate the Eucharist.

If you think about it, no two Masses are the same, and not just because the homily is different. The people are different, even if it’s exactly the same 238 people who were there last time. Each person’s life has been touched by grace; each one’s relationship with God has grown; each one’s journey toward heaven is now in a different moment than it was last time.

So, don’t lose sight of the reality of each Mass, and don’t stand on the sidelines as a mere observer. Enter into the event. Let it change your life. Still more next month.

Vivat Jesus!


Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire
State Chaplain