Thanksgiving Mass – Sopron

Thanksgiving Mass at the Mother Church of the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer – Sopron, May 1, 2015

I. Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, One hundred and fifty years ago in May of 1865, Mother Alphonse Maria, Elizabeth Eppinger, visited our Sisters in Sopron. One year later, April 11, 1866, The Holy See approved the Religious Community with the name of „The Sisters of the Divine Redeemer“. Now, in this Year of Consecrated Life, the Sisters are coming here to the Motherhouse, to give thanks for their vocations which was once the seat of leadership in the Congregation. In this Holy Mass the following texts were used from the Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer, approved by the Holy See.

II. a) A few years ago when I celebrated Holy Mass in Budapest, I spoke about Redemption. After Holy Mass, a student approached me {my former Altar Boy} and asked: “What do we need to do to be Redeemed?”

 In the Holy Bible, the book of Genesis, we read the following description of the creation of the world: “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good“ {Gen 1:31}. This proceeded the dawn of history in which was shown that human behavior is not as good as the work of God!

   The duality=on the one hand some knowledge of good and at the same time, on the other hand, the presence of sin=it awakens in man the desire for Redemption!

   The whole world, from antiquity to present day, is dealing with this drama to answer these questions: “Why is it that one can always see before good but acts evil? How is it possible that the world does not accept good ones, but is constantly trying to destroy them?” Think of the groaning of G. Bernard Shawa at the end of his work “St. Jean“: “O, God, who has created this beautiful earth! How long it take, yet, when it is willing to accept Yous Saints=how long, O, God, how long?“

   Solzenicyn writes that the human heart crosses the inner discontent. St. Paul describes in the Letter of the Romans with dramatic insistence the tragic situation: “…but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?“ {Rom 7:23-24}.

   The experience of sin is just the experience of suffering and death that appear to be unreasonable!

   J. Festugière, O. P., thus summarizes the religious ideal of the Greeks: «Gnothi seauton = Man, know yourself! Your fate is death, so you’re not one of the gods genus. {…} You have to make do with what can be measured by your human measure. {…} Accept your mortal destiny, as it emerges the will of the gods. {…} True wisdom lies in the resignation, which it put up with the arbitrariness of the gods.» {Békés, G: “Krisztusi örömhír és evangéliumi boldogság” Sz. I. T. 1983, p. 136}

   But to these days, everyone is protesting against it!

   Albert Camus, whom life seemed meaningless, even though he wrote: «Thus, is nothing meaningless? I never thought that it would remain in this position.» (Szabó, F: „Mai írók és gondolkodók” Louvain, 1965. S. 20)

   This proves the eternal experience of humanity==inside the innermost man is indelibly inscribed a desire for eternal life and immortality, but he has to understand that they are unattainable for him.

   People are still searching for answers to questions that once worried them. The solution came up in Revelation. Since then, man is not looking for God, but God comes to people who began in the Old Testament.

   Even in the Book of Job, as we have heard, God is called: “Defender of my Affairs “ {in Hebrew: goel) the main meaning of the word is: Protector. In the Old Testament God is called “goel of Israel“== protector of enemies, He frees them from oppressors. It is, therefore obvious that the words of Job translated into the old Syriac and Latin as follows: “My Redeemer Lives!“ And now, Job, trusts that God will protect him, even after death and leaves the barriers of existing ideas. He considers it possible, even expected, that God has called him after the death of the underworld and again He would restore his rights.

   Predictions of the possibility to return from the underworld, as an extraordinary manifestation of God’s power, appears in other writings of the Old Testament.

   Here is the beginning, when the dawn of the Resurrection is based on revelation {2 Mac 7:9}, that fully shines only in the New Testament.

   b) Redemption, therefore, means that one will be freed from sin and at the same time justified to reach eternal life. This brought us our, Lord Jesus, who died and rose from the dead “for all“.

   According to St. Paul “Jesus is wisdom from God and justice“ {1 Cor 1:30}. This shows both natures of redemption which is human and divine. St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians is formulated in the same way: “It is He who has rescued us from the ruling force of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son that he loves“ {Col 1:13}.

   Christ rescued us from sin and gave us, through faith and baptism, eternal life. This we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church {CCC}:

    “Christ, the first-born from the dead” {Col 1:18}, is the principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls and one day by the new life He will impart to our bodies.“ (N. 658)

   Jesus Christ, in the High Priest Prayer {in today Gospel}, asked for “May they all by one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you sent me.“ {Jn 17:21}

   In the Letter to the Romans {second reading} St. Paul explained that ”future glory“ {Rom 8:18} already exists in Christ and is now present in us a mysterious way, as if in bud. All that we suffer in this present life is nothing in comparison with the glory which is destined to be disclosed for us. Yes, this glory will be uncovered and revealed, although it is already in us. We cannot imagine this wonderful kingdom!

   He, particularly, emphasizes that the entire material world that God created, is subject to slavery of impermanence. But man because of his sinfulness, creation does not glorify God. St. Paul emphasizes that the whole creation will share in the glorified human body of our risen Christ.

   c) The work of redemption continues in the Church. Everybody has his/her own role. The strength of our risen Lord acts in each mission of the Church. God has given the Church signs of our risen Lord such as Christian marriage, priesthood, martyrdom, etc. One of these special signs is purity for the kingdom of God!

   Chastity is mentioned in the Old Testament only as a punishment or misfortune because of a twofold reason: the expectation of the Messiah and the lack of faith in the resurrection.

   Since Christ rose from the dead, we know that the kingdom of God had its beginning, here, already, but here, it does not reach its fullness. With love of Christ and the kingdom of God, we live our vocation.
The kingdom of God is not spread through earthly offspring, as in the Old Testament, but through the proclamation of the Gospel and baptism
Chastity of the kingdom of God, today, is an exclamation mark! It means that there is resurrection and eternal life and that Religious are, already, anticipating the life, that Jesus Christ spoke about; “… they neither marry, nor are given in marriage.“ {Lk 20:35}

   Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras, who led a holy life, once said that as religious novices are “apprentices of the resurrection“. A person who dedicated his/her life completely to Christ is and remains a sign whether he/she is a doctor, nurse, teacher, preacher etc., even if outside activities are absent such as contemplative orders. These signs are needed in modern times, in the Church and in the world.

   Holy Father, John Paul II, said to the Carmelites in Spain: “The windows of your Home are closed to the world, but they are open to God. Such an oasis for the soul needs both the Church and the world to live and breathe.

   III. Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Thanks be to God for your Foundress and the Sisters of the Congregation of the Divine Redeemer both living and dead. Let us pray that they know to be a living SIGN, today, in the Church of the 21st century. I would like to end with the words of René Grousset:

   “Faced with emptiness of the torsion starts today, Christianity, as the Spirit Protection. If Christianity, as were not present, everything would be hopeless, as the ship-wreck. Its mission is now more redemptive than ever. Hail, Holy Cross, our only Hope!“ {René Grousset, quotation=F. Szabó p. 226-227}.  Amen.