Chaplain’s Conference: Ending Well

Chaplain’s Conference
Sacred Heart Catholic High School
Monday, May 21, 2018

thats all folks

Here we are: the home stretch. The end is in sight.  As we approach the end of the school year, it is important to pause and consider how we will end this school year.

The Book of Sirach (11:28) reminds us of this important truth:
Call no man happy before his death,
For by how he ends, a man is known.

Brothers and sisters, we are known and remembered, not by how we begin, but rather by how we end.

It helps to begin well. But if we have a rocky start, we can recover.
It is critical to end well.

In the end, a Christian is judged not by how he begins, but by how he ends. Saint Paul is remembered for his love for God and his spreading of the gospel, not for his persecution and killing of Christians. Paul began as a sinner but ended as a saint. He rejoices in Heaven now. He is remembered not for how he began, but for by how he ended.

At the end of our lives, when we stand before the Lord on the day of our judgement, we will not be judged for how we began. We will be judged for how we ended.

The best way to make sure that we will end our lives well is to practice by ending each chapter of our lives well.

The chapter of this school year, this chapter of your life, is coming to an end.

My challenge to you is this: End well.

For by how he ends, a man is known.

How will you be remembered?

I think there are three things that we can say that help us to end well.

First: Thank You

Thank you can be a difficult thing to say. It means acknowledging that I have received something that is a gift. It means acknowledging that I couldn’t have done it on my own. It means taking the time to go to another person, to seek them out, to look them in the eye, and to express gratitude for what they have done for me.

There are teachers and coaches who made an impact on you this year. They have given of themselves so that you could grow.  They have sacrificed their time and energy for you. Thank them. Really thank them. Go out of your way to approach them and to tell them of the impact that they made on you. Others have shown you real friendship this year. Thank them for being a good friend.

Do not leave the doors of this building for the last time this year without saying “thank you”.

Second: I’m sorry

If saying thank you is difficult, saying “I’m sorry” is more difficult. Yet it’s even more important than saying “thank you”.

Repentance is at the heart of the gospel and at the heart of what it is to be a Christian. Own up to your own sins, weaknesses, and failures. Grow by them.

Whom have you hurt this year?
What relationships are strained?

Saint Paul tells the Ephesians: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

The sun is setting on this school year. The time is short.

True love says “I’m sorry” for the good of the other.
Self-love says “it’s too hard or awkward so I’ll just let it blow over. In a week, it won’t matter.”

Brothers and sisters, it does matter. By how he ends, a man is known. Don’t be remembered for old grudges, resentment, hurt, and unforgiveness. Be remembered for healing a wound. Be remembered for having the guts to right a wrong. Who do you need to apologize to before you leave on Friday?

Say “I’m sorry”.

Finally: I love you

This might seem strange for a high school setting.  But what does “I love you” mean?  To love is to will the good of the other person. It is to choose their good. In our context, a first step might be to tell another person “I wish you the best.”

Can we say that to each other as this year comes to a close? Even if we don’t see eye to eye with each other, perhaps especially with that person with whom we don’t see eye to eye? Can we say, “Have a great summer. I wish you the best”?

Mark Miller joins us this morning. Mark is a seminarian of the Diocese of Crookston, studying for the priesthood. He just graduated from college seminary. He begins his theology studies at a new seminary in the Fall. In four years, God willing, he will become Father Mark. He just experienced an ending with his graduation from college. I’ve invited him to share some of his thoughts on what it means to end well with us this morning.

[Mark speaks]

Now, I have a couple of more things I’d like to say.

First, thank you.  It has been an honor and a joy to be your chaplain this year.  It has been a blessing to get to know you and to watch you grow.  Thank you for welcoming me into your midst.   Thank you for rising to the occasion when I challenged you to step up and grow.  Thank you for your witness in my life.  I am grateful for each and every one of you.

Second, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for the times that you wanted to talk to me about something and I appeared to be too busy.  I’m sorry for the times when I challenged you when you were having a bad day and weren’t open to being challenged.  I’m sorry for the times that I took myself more seriously than I needed to: Sophomores, I’m sorry.  Teaching is not a strength of mine but I am working on it and hope to improve for next year.

Finally, I love you.  I do.  I wish you the best in your summer endeavors and I look forward to seeing you back here next year.  Seniors, you always have a home at Sacred Heart.  Come back and see us when you are home.  I am just a phone call away if you need anything next year.

On Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church.  Today, we celebrate the Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church.  We celebrate the openness of a young girl from Nazareth to receiving the Holy Spirit, an openness that allowed her to conceive the Son of God as the fruit of her womb.  And so it is fitting that, as we seek to end this school year well, we ask for her intercession.

Hail Mary…


The Power of the Holy Spirit

Homily for Pentecost (Year B)
May 20, 2018
Sacred Heart, EGF – 7:30, 9:00, 10:30

Focus:               That is the power of the Holy Spirit.
Function:         Live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost - Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer

Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer
The painting was on an altar in the Church of Holy Spirit in Sopron, Hungary.

The Prince of the Apostles, filled with fear, denied knowing Jesus on the night of his arrest. This same Peter, on the day of Pentecost, stood up with the other apostles and boldly proclaimed to those same people who had shouted “Crucify Him!”, that Jesus is the Son of God and has been raised from the dead.  They were cut to the heart, they repented, and 3000 people were baptized that day.  That is the power of the Holy Spirit.

One hundred thirty years ago, a man murdered three women in Paris. He showed no signs of remorse and was sentenced to death by guillotine.  This cut to the heart of a young girl who lived more than 100 miles away.  She was so moved by the thought that this man might die without having repented, that she decided to fast and pray for his conversion.  On the day of his execution, the man turned to the officer accompanying him, asked for a crucifix, and kissed it three times before he was beheaded.  The young girl, elated that her prayer had been answered, later joined a Carmelite convent and took the name Therese of Lisieux.  That is the power of the Holy Spirit.

A young woman, just 24 years old, attends the funeral of her mother-in-law who died much too young at the age of 44. After communion, she begins to break.  The tears roll down her face as she realizes it is time to say goodbye for the last time.  She feels a hand touch her shoulder and give a warm, comforting squeeze.  Peace descends upon her.  Everything will be OK.  She turns around to see who reached out in a moment of compassion.  No one is there.  The pew behind her is empty.  That is the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is our Advocate when we face the Accuser.
He is our Consoler in moments of incredible pain and loss.

The Holy Spirit is the One who emboldens us to step out in faith, out of our comfort zones. He is the One who does something through us that we could never do on our own power.

The Holy Spirit is the One who gives us the grace to love our enemies,
the One who teaches us all things
the One who gives us what we need at the moment we need it.

He is the One who gives power to our preaching and to our prayers.
It is the Holy Spirit who brings sinners to repentance,
who converts hearts, who convicts hearts.

That is the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit who breathed over the waters at the dawn of creation is the same Holy Spirit who was breathed into your soul at the moment of your baptism.

It is this same Holy Spirit who prays within us when we do not know how to pray as we ought, who prays with inexpressible groanings as we long for the coming of the Kingdom, as we long for peace, for love, for acceptance, for meaning, as we long for God himself. It is the Holy Spirit who makes our souls cry out: “Abba, Father!”

The same Holy Spirit whose power overshadowed a young girl from Nazareth, causing her to conceive the Son of God as the fruit of her womb, is the same Holy Spirit whose power, whose gifts, were conceived in you when you received the Sacrament of Confirmation so that your soul might bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

That is the power of the Holy Spirit.

The power of the Holy Spirit is the power to live fully and to love deeply.

It is the power, it is the flame of love within the heart of the baptized believer to love as Jesus loves, to love with a heart of fire, to love with a heart blazing, raging with the uncontrollable fire of charity, an all-consuming fire of the love of God himself.

The Holy Spirit who is the bond of love between the Father and the Son is the same Holy Spirit who is the bond of love between a husband and a wife united in the Sacrament of Matrimony, a bond of love so tight that it can never be broken, a bond that gives the power to remain faithful in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, a bond of love that points to Christ’s love for his Church.

The Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, calls us into our very existence.

It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that ordinary gifts of bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, not only calls us into this existence we call “life” but calls us to eternal life by providing us with the Bread of Life.

That is the power of the Holy Spirit.

Brothers and sisters, you have been given the Holy Spirit. You are temples of the Holy Spirit.

He dwells within you. He does.

He is with you.
His power is within you.

The Holy Spirit continues to be poured out upon you, within you, a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The secret to living in the power of the Holy Spirit is this:
Call upon him. Pray and pray often: Come Holy Spirit!

Call upon him and then give in to his power working within your soul. Let your soul cry out in glory to God when the Holy Spirit inspires you to do so.  Give in to the inexpressible groanings, the searching for God, the inspirations to do something heroic, something more, something…saintly.

Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful,
and enkindle in us the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created,
and you shall renew the face of the earth.

Come Holy Spirit.  Come and give me the strength to perform that small act of love that I feel called to do but am putting off because it’s outside of my comfort zone.

Come Holy Spirit. Come and give me the strength and grace to overcome my fears and to deny myself, take up my cross, the cross I know you’ve given me to carry but that I am afraid to carry, and follow you.

Come Holy Spirit. Come and give me the courage to take the next step in pursuing my vocation in life, the vocation that you have given to me.

Brothers and sisters, call upon the Holy Spirit and you will live in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Live in the power of the Holy Spirit and you will experience the real power of Pentecost.

What is the Lord placing on your heart right now? I invite you to pray…

Come Holy Spirit. Come and help me to…