by The Most. Rev. Robert C. Morlino
Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin
Transcript, Homily from the Baccalaureate Mass
Commencement 2018, Thomas Aquinas College
May 12, 2018
Don’t you all look great!
This is absolutely marvelous. And I think a good, solid graduate of Thomas Aquinas College is something far more rare than a bishop. So, we treasure you, we appreciate you, and we pray with great love and affection and hope for all of you every blessed day. As I look at you, I am so grateful for your parents who are here — and maybe there are some who are not here for various reasons, some who may have gone on to see the face of Christ, like my family. This is a wonderful day to think about and pray for them and to feel their love very closely, because Heaven and earth, Purgatory — we are all united at Mass in the most intense way that we can be. We don’t take for granted our union today with loved ones who have been called to see the face of Christ.
Parents, thank you so much for doing such a wonderful job. These are spectacular young men and women. They know what it is to be Catholic. They know what lay mission in the Church means. And really, one would never guess, but the most important purpose of Vatican II was to enliven and encourage lay mission in the Church for great young men and women. (People have come to think that Vatican II was all about the liturgy, and all I can say is, I hope not.) But it’s really about what you can do in the vineyard of Christ — whether you are called to marriage (as most of you will be); whether some of you young women are called to consecrated religious life, to witness to the holiness of Mary. What a beautiful thing that is. We need that witness to holiness. Remember, dear women, the holiest human being who ever lived was not a pope, a bishop, a priest, or a male. It was Mary, the Mother of God, in God’s plan. And women have a special gift to witness to that holiness with Mary, like Mary.
And dear young men, I’m sure that some of you are called to be priests. I will talk turkey about that. We desperately need good priests. If you think that you have a vocation that was given root, that took root, in your home diocese, or in a religious community, you go there. Go where your vocation is rooted. If your vocation is rooted here, at Thomas Aquinas — Thomas Aquinas, for all of its good, is not a diocese. So, if your vocation is rooted here, you have the freedom to look around. And I offer wonderful scholarships and even fringe benefits! While I would never say “all are welcome,” TAC young men are welcome! So please take that to heart, and if I could ever be of any help to you in discerning a vocation, or if you want to be recruited, I usually use a very nicely cooked Italian meal to do that. If you’d like to be recruited, feel very free to be in touch.
Now I am going to talk about the Scripture, but just briefly. Scripture tells us all about what the Holy Spirit is up to, and we celebrate a Mass of the Holy Spirit, as is so appropriate. The Holy Spirit drives the Church to its fulfillment in Heaven. We’re on the march, and the Holy Spirit pulls us. In a way, He sucks us into Heaven with His gentle breath, every day of our lives — if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Now, when I look around our country — and honestly, when I look around the Church — I am not comforted by what I see. And it’s not me having a personal opinion. There is a tremendous amount of confusion in the Church, and there are forces in our country that really are running toward Hell faster than you and I run toward Heaven, and we’ve got to worry about that. I can’t get over the eagerness with which certain forces dash toward Hell. And, in the Church, there is too much mediocrity.
You are part of the solution to that problem. From my point of view, and this is my opinion, there’s very little we can do to bring the Church into a direction which less confuses the faithful. That’s the bad news. Very little. The good news is that what we can’t do, the Holy Spirit will do. I have to be honest, I don’t know if I will live to see it, but the Holy Spirit, in virtue of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, is going to pull the Church out of the doldrums in which She lives. And the Holy Spirit is going to show forth in the Church the greatness of His power that we heard about in the second reading (Ep. 1:3a, 4a, 13-19a), so that we can see the greatness of the power of God, the Holy Spirit.
And so, whatever happens, whatever some German bishop comes up with tomorrow, we have hope. We have hope because the Holy Spirit never goes on strike. And the Holy Spirit probably does call young men to be priests in the Diocese of Madison. It’s not California, but the city of Madison tries to be as much like Berkley as possible. They’re about five years behind. So there’s a challenge for you, the challenge that you know from California.
The Lord has great plans in mind for you. Pray hard. Pray a lot. Stay in tune. Let the Holy Spirit’s breath pull you toward Heaven, but day by day. Don’t worry about 10 years from now. Day by day. Today, tomorrow, just take it one day at a time. With the tremendous gifts that you have — spiritually, academically — you will soar toward the heavens, where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God.
Remember, the Holy Spirit fills the whole world, embraces everything. Nothing is left out of the Holy Spirit’s plans. The Holy Spirit knows what human beings say in their deepest hearts. And the holy Spirit, Who knows that, loves it for each one of you. Based on what you are saying to yourself deep in your heart, the Holy Spirit will bring all of that to fulfillment, with great hope, with great charity, and with a great joy — most important of all — a joy that the world can never give you, and a joy that the world cannot take away from you.
God love you all. Praise be Jesus Christ.
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