I once asked my friend Dan, “When you’re at a stop light and the car next to you has the radio on, how often have you heard classical music playing?” Without skipping a beat he said, “Never.” I also noticed when doing a little food shopping what things were piled up in the shopping carts of those around me. Mostly junk food. Next, I looked over the offerings on non-cable TV (just to take a quick look). Guess what? Trash, silly or filthy, with lots of commercials.
Culturally a great majority of our American people are deficient if not impoverished. That’s not to say they’re necessarily bad, immoral people, but that for the greater part they have a rather low level of culture which can be assessed by standards other than those mentioned above. Reading material, for instance. Language skills. Knowledge of history. Good manners. We may have a pretty good standard of living in terms of technological advances, amenities of life and rather high economic standing, but we’re sorely deficient in what are called “the higher things.”
These observations are hardly news breaking. Our people are by and large the descendants of generally poor, hard-working immigrants who formed a united people that became great in the remarkable achievement that we call the USA. For this we may be forgiven our lowbrow tastes and ignorance about many of those higher things. Yet there’s one measure of a people, and of individuals too, that should not excuse underachievers. This is the attainment of nobility of spirit. It has little to do with schooling or wealth or pedigree, but has all to do with the condition of one’s soul.
This is all by way of an odd introduction to our upcoming feast day. The Holy Virgin Mary is the most noble human person ever to have lived (or yet to live) and this in spite of the mean circumstances of her most humble life. Mary is the exemplar of all that is most excellent in our nature. Our Lord sait that the greatest among us would be as the least. No better instance of this than Our Lady. What we will celebrate on August 15 is god’s acknowledgement of Her incomparable nobility of soul, Her unsurpassed excellence in grace and virtue. She did not need to be schooled in philosophy or science or art, although God may indeed have infused knowledge of these and many other things into Her mind that we do not know of – in this life at least – for She is the Seat of Wisdom. No one can hope to come close to imitating Her exalted degree of excellence in anything, but we can attain to some degree of nobility of soul which is the fruit of the Catholic life well lived.
The Popes, in reference to Her Assumption, have drawn our attention to the ways in which we can become like the Holy Virgin Mary. She set a pattern of life for us that we can imitate no matter what our degree of culture, position, wealth, or any other natural criterion. God rewarded Her in the glorification of Her body immediately after Her death, assuming it united with Her soul into heaven. The other saints – among whom we hope to be numbered – will have to await their rising from the dead and entry into heaven until the end of time. Only those will be glorified, in whatever degree, who have nobility of soul, that is, one healed of sin and elevated by grace.
As always, I make an appeal to our parishioners to be present on August 15th not only for the Mass that they attend, but to spend added time in prayer to and with Our Blessed Mother. This is our parish’[s finest hour and the opportunity to express our devotion and love for Our Lady in a demonstrative way. In this we carry on a tradition that reaches back more than a century when pilgrims came here in search of grace and divine favor. We are privileged to be members of this parish today for all the fidelity it has shown in generations past in honoring Holy Mary. This is the day above all others when we witness Her continuing solicitude for our people.
Let us celebrate together this longstanding tradition of honor to that most noble Lady of the Assumption.
P.S. A reminder to use the shuttle bus from Saint Veronica Church if you can to avoid parking on the neighborhood streets. This is for your convenience and your safety.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Fr. Perrone: Cultural impoverishment, nobility of soul, and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Fr. Eduard Perrone, “A Pastor’s Descant” (Assumption Grotto News, August 13, 2017):