Sermon for the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension – June 5, 2011 by Fr. Perez
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
I wanted to say some things today, because summer is a comin’ in, as the round goes. Some of what I am saying today I said yesterday at the Padre Pio graduation. So if you were at the Padre Pio graduation, you can go back to sleep and we’ll wake you up after the sermon. But summer is practically upon us and there are a number of things that we should keep in mind.
I use the analogy of somebody who wants to become a cook. And they go out and say, Well, okay, I want to be a cook, I want to be a really good cook. And they buy all the equipment, you know, the best pots and pans and things like that, skillets and whatnot and whisks from Sur La Table, and they get the best oven and stove they can get, the hugest Easy-Bake commercial model they can find with the big light bulb inside. And they buy the best cook book, they read all the reviews and they go out and they buy just the top-of-the-line ingredients, filet mignon and flagra and King Arthur flour and just all the best of everything, hand-made butter from Serbia or something like that that’s just the bee’s knees.
Now, if they go home with all this wonderful stuff and they just look at everything they gotten, then, it is really for nothing. They have to put it together, they have to do some work, they have to put it together into its’ final form. You know, they have to shred things and cook them and roll them out and mix them and do all of the above. And they have to be done in the right order. And, finally, when they have a product at the end of it, they can say that they are then the cook, and all the things that they have put their money and time into are justified.
Well, a lot of that applies to us in a certain way, because between the various elements of our lives we are given those tools, the cookbook, the oven, the everything. For example, we have our Catholic schooling. That provides the foundations of the faith, whether it be home schooling or going to a school like Padre Pio or whatever like that, that’s kind of like the cookbook, that’s the information. You come to Mass here, you get the sacraments here, you come to other things here, and that provides you with the grace and the other means that are the utensils. The final and missing element, though, is yourself. Unless everybody here takes that home and cooks that all up into a genuine Catholic household and makes a genuine Catholic life, then the rest of it is good for nothing. Then you are sitting at home looking at all the ingredients. What good is the grace you get here or the education in the faith that you get here or at the school or any school, if you let that go, and then, at home, you let your children or yourself do what you will, especially with the coming summertime.
Summertime is a wonderful time and should be. But we have to realize that we are still Catholics. When you walk out of here, you are supposed to comport yourself as a Catholic lady or a Catholic gentleman, no matter what the circumstance you find yourself in. Summer isn’t a license. Many times it ends up being a license. But, remember, we are in the world but not of the world. And, so, what we have to avoid is any kind of worldliness when it comes to every aspect or any aspect of our lives.
You know, I don’t want to give away the plot of today’s Mass, but the Communion verse says it very well. Our Lord says in the gospel of John in this Communion verse which is from John’s gospel, he is praying to his Father. And he says, I do not pray that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from evil. And that is my counsel to every one here. You know, you have to realize that as people trying to save their souls, there are things you simply have to give up, but other things you have to modify and you don’t have to give up. For example, you want to go to the beach. Well, the common beach, if you go to Huntington Beach or one of these larger beaches, that’s a scandal, it’s a scandal to you because of all the things you see and some of the things you don’t see. What you don’t see is modesty, what you do see is too much skin in general. But, does that mean that Catholics can never go to the beach. Well, you know, I’ve driven — drive down from here towards the Oceanside area sometime. There are whole beaches with nobody on them south of here. Everybody wants to go to the big beaches. And that’s where all the scandal is. If you want to go to the beach, drive a little bit, make a day of it, for example. Your own fashions. You know, you dress as young Catholic and older Catholic ladies and gentlemen, in spite of how the world is dressing.
And I don’t think I need to tell you that the world is dressing pretty scantily these days. In fact, it used to be when some girl was dressed very, very poorly, you know, she was dressed like one of those bad ladies, you know what I am talking about, well, now, practically everybody where I live is dressed like one of those bad ladies. And, so, the bad ladies have to dress even more outrageously to distinguish themselves from just the average populous and it is getting ridiculous. So, be careful about things like that. Remember, modesty is very important. How you talk, what you do, where you go. And just remember that you are Catholic men and women, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. And bear that thought in mind.
Also, avail yourself of the grace. You will have more time in the summer, most of you. Well, some of you have a lot of time right now because you’re like retired. I know I’m talking to everybody, you know. So you just put together whatever applies to you and toss out what doesn’t apply to you. But, in general, people find themselves with more time during the summer. Think about — how about daily Mass two or three, five times a week, whatever. You know, it’s kind of strange, but in the summertime our daily Mass population doesn’t really go up that much. And you wonder what all these school kids and their families are doing. We kept track last summer and there was like, the average was .8 students per Mass. And most of those were repeat customers, you know. You have to wonder if you are serious about availing yourself of the means of grace, if you only go on Sunday and then ditch and then we see you the next Sunday, that’s not availing yourself of the graces that not only are good for you, but that you need, that you absolutely need to make it. We are fighting against this world. We are in the world and not of it. And the means of fighting are two things; the virtue of prudence and also the grace to support that virtue.
What is prudence? Prudence is a virtue that allows you to govern your every act through the filter of the question, Will this be good for my salvation or not, or will it lead other people to salvation or not. Is this leading people towards God, myself towards God, or away from God. And that virtue of Prudence governs, then, your every action. When you are considering doing something, it causes you to ask the question, Is it good, is it bad, is it good for me, is it good for others. Will even the appearance of it lead somebody in the wrong direction. You see, sometimes things are in themselves morally neutral or good. But the appearance of them will lead somebody away from God, and so you refrain, then from doing something like that. You can make up numerous examples of that.
So we have to be prudent, first of all, and second of all, we have to fortify ourselves with the graces available to us. Need I mention First Fridays and First Saturdays. They are such wonderful, wonderful opportunities for all of us that we should all be doing those.
So, my dear faithful, I don’t think any more needs to be said about this. But, remember as a family, prudence, and you are Catholic ladies and gentlemen, whether you are inside of here or outside of here. You know, the Fathers and I talk sometimes and we’ll say, You know, so and so and (inaudible) I am trying, but they just don’t get it. And I’m trying to make more of you get it. For example, when I mention the things about fashions. Ladies, yes, wear a nicer dress for Sunday. But don’t put on jeans when you get out of here. You are a cow person, to use the de-sexed term, you know, a cowgirl, if you want. And even cowgirls dressed better than if you’ve ever been to a rodeo. They wore dresses, they just had spurs on with their dresses. But, you know, you don’t go out and the ladies don’t put on shorts ever, unless you are going swimming and you are alone and this kind of thing. And this pants business, that’s man’s dress. That’s wrong. How many times do I have to say it.
I’ll make a bet with you, though. Any lady who says, Oh, father, you know. And I know, too, there’s pants and then there’s pants. Okay, there are ones that aren’t too bad. But try to get away from even the nice pants suit. But, I’ll make you a deal. When Our Lady appears in pants in an apparition, then you have permission across the board to all go dressed in the same kind of pants that she’s appearing in. Until that time, think about that. Why has Our Lady never appeared in pants? Because her Son wouldn’t let her, you know. That’s how it goes.
So, please be careful. And, you go , Well, what’s wrong with pants. I’m not even going to go into that, except that it’s the wrong way for a woman to be dressing, especially one who wants to be called a lady. And I do realize that for traveling — okay, if you are getting in the van and you have to deal with kids. I don’t see why you can’t do it in a dress. I played in a bagpipe band for 20 years and I wore a dress the whole time. And, you know, there wasn’t anything I didn’t do in that dress that had to be done. The Scottish Army fought all of World War I and II dressed in dresses. They were crawling on their bellies in ditches and bombing bad guys while wearing dresses. So, when I hear, Oh, I have to wear my pants because I just can’t walk right, or I have a crutch and it doesn’t work right unless I’m wearing pants, I have to say, I’m sorry, but if the Scottish Army can fight Germans and stuff like that, all over the world, crawling around on their bellies and running around in ditches and shooting bad guys in dresses, then you can, too. Sort of. I don’t want you doing all those things, but you could certainly take a hike and stuff like that.
So, that’s just a word to the wise. And just remember the words of one of the great saints in the church. He wrote this whole little thing on modesty. He goes, Who do the judges condemn, the ones who drank the poison or the ones who poisoned them. And women dressed immodestly, girls dressed immodestly are the ones who are poisoning people. You know — and I’ve had girls tell me this before, Well, that’s your problem, you know, if you don’t like the way I’m dressed. Well, yeah, it kind of becomes my problem at that point. But you’re the one going out there and saying, Well, here I am, look at me, and this kind of thing, So they’re doing the poisoning.
Men, you got to be careful, too, but it’s a lot less. For some reason in today’s society and where we are, men dress way more modestly than most women. The boys dress way more modestly than most of the girls. And, so, may it continue to be that way. They don’t in Germany, by the way. In Germany and Norway, the men wear these scandalous little shorty things. But we don’t have to worry about that. It hasn’t hit this side of the Atlantic yet.
So, my dear faithful, that’s it. Summer is coming, do not be unprepared. It doesn’t mean you have to have a miserable summer, but, remember, all of the ingredients and all of the hardware and pots and pans that you bought, this is it’s shining hour when you put them together into a Catholic life and hold fast to that.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.