CZĘSTOCHOWA, POLAND – On Monday, July 25, 2016, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, celebrated Mass at Poland’s holiest site, the Jasna Góra Monastery—home of the famous Black Madonna icon—for U.S. Military Catholics en route to the World Youth Day 2016 celebration July 26-31 in Kraków.
Archbishop Broglio delivered his homily in both English and French. Here follows the full text:
Homily of Archbishop Timothy Broglio during the
Mass at Jasna Góra
(25.VII.16: Is.9:1-6, ps. 85; Lk. 1:26-38)
“At the end of June a small delegation came to see me to talk about Father Aloysius Schmidt. It consisted of a retired Admiral, the grandnephew of the priest, the Assistant City Manager of his home city, and a retired Air Force officer. None of them could have known him. Why did they come?
“They knew of his heroic deeds on 7 December 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was aboard the USS Oklahoma, which was capsized in the attack. Like most Navy chaplains he knew his way around the ship—even upside down. He led a small group of survivors to a space with a porthole and then, being 6.5 feet tall, pushed his charges out of the ship where two others lifted them to safety above the surface.
“When all were out of the ship, the two crewmen told Father to come through, but he said that he heard other voices and went to look for more survivors. By the time he found them and pushed them through the porthole, he could no longer save himself.
“Why did Father Schmidt stay below to facilitate the survival of others?
“He had an ideal beyond himself; he was a person for others. That radical commitment is the basis of our gathering at this important sanctuary today. Jesus Christ loves us to the point of dying on a cross to offer us the promise of eternal life. He calls those who follow Him to participate in that same love.
“We have come to the Black Madonna, because Mary teaches us to be open to the will of God and that openness puts us squarely on the road to lasting peace. Thus renewed by these days of pilgrimage, we no longer walk in the shadows, but are enabled to show the mercy we have received.
“The Gospel reminds us about the angel Gabriel, the force or strength of God, who visited a humble virgin of Nazareth and made known the divine plan. Think about the amazing change to her existence. Think about the changes that came to her plans. What does she tell Joseph? What will Joachim and Ann think?
“However, she brings none of these concerns to her dialogue with Gabriel. Simply she states the obvious, that she is a virgin and then the words that have become a model of fidelity forever after: ‘be it done to me according to thy word’. She makes no conditions, but opens herself completely to the will of God. Her fiat is the prayer of the faithful person in the face of the divine will.
“It is a ‘Fiat’ of simplicity and obedience, prepared from her immaculate conception and throughout her brief life. She knew how to open herself to God’s action, without trying to control, to dominate, or to busy herself about many details. Note well that she did not ask: what do I have to do?, but rather, in my situation, how will this come about?
“The catechism emphasizes this role of our Mother. ‘The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 488.)
“She teaches us how to experience true serenity and inner peace. It is in being a man or woman of joyful expectation: one who listens more than speaks, one who is aware and lives the truth that ‘nothing is impossible for God’. If God gives us little, it means that we have hoped for little. It is, in fact, impossible to nourish someone who is not hungry.
“It is a challenge to listen in our contemporary world. Silence is often absent. In our US military communities the shared space of the chapel does not lend itself to prayer before or after Mass. Our lives are filled with instantaneous communication: the beeps of phones, computers, and other devices, the blare of the television or piped music. It is almost as if we abhor silence. Yet it is so essential in order for us to hear the voice of God.
“We pray that these days might be a time of listening. We will have many opportunities to hear the word of God and to deepen our understanding of it. The application is first of all personal and then we hope that our personal example will also be a witness that leads others to imitation.
“Father Schmidt and his heroism at Pearl Harbor is still remembered. He taught the value of life, a spirit of self-sacrifice, and an attentiveness to how he might serve others. Those are values that put us squarely on the road to peace. At this place which for centuries has been a place of worship and pilgrimage, we, too, want to learn and to beg a time of peace for our world.
“Pope Francis expressed that wish at the beginning of this year 2016 when he said: [Mary] ‘appears to us as a vessel filled to the brim with the memory of Jesus, as the Seat of Wisdom to whom we can have recourse to understand his teaching aright. Today Mary makes it possible for us to grasp the meaning of events which affect us personally, events which also affect our families, our countries and the entire world. Where philosophical reason and political negotiation cannot arrive, there the power of faith, which brings the grace of Christ’s Gospel, can arrive, opening ever new pathways to reason and to negotiation.’ (Pope Francis, Homily for Mary, Mother of God, 1.I.16.)
“In imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us always walk that road of peace. Even when we are forced into combat, we must continue to cultivate that longing for a world where people engage in dialogue, where hate gives way to love, and where difference is no longer a threat to a communion of life.
“Our respect for the inestimable value of human life from the womb to the tomb must keep us squarely on the road to lasting peace.”
Archbishop Broglio went on to deliver most of the remainder of his homily in French, as follows:
“Ce chemin reste toujours difficile à trouver. Nous nous trouvons souvent marchant sur le chemin de la guerre. Nous nous sentons comme le Peuple élu dans la première lecture. La prophétie d’Isaïe se situe à un moment d’épreuve pour Israël. Les Assyriens dans le Nord ont déporté des Galiléens. La marche dans les ténèbres conduit à l’exil. Le pays de l’ombre, celui de la captivité. Comment peut-on entendre la jubilation annoncée?
“Joie des moissonneurs, alors que les exilés sont loin de leur terre, joie des vainqueurs, alors qu’Israël est vaincu ?
“A l’origine de la joie : le Seigneur a brisé tous les instruments employés contre les déportés (le joug, le bâton, e la trique). On n’entend plus le pas des soldats ennemis, on ne voit plus leur uniforme taché du sang de leurs victimes.
“On y parle d’un nouveau roi, mais nous voyons la figure de Jésus, l’Emmanuel. Il est le Messie que nous remplie d’espoir, de confiance, et du courage pour aller non plus sur les chemins de ténèbres. Comme le thème de cette journée de la jeunesse nous enseigne : nous avons reçu miséricorde ; il faut que nous en donne d’avantage.
“Pour citer autre fois l’homélie du Saint Père au début de l’année : « Donc, ce n’est pas l’histoire qui décide de la naissance du Christ ; c’est, plutôt, sa venue dans le monde qui permet à l’histoire d’atteindre sa plénitude. C’est pour cela qu’à partir de la naissance du Fils de Dieu, commence le calcul d’une nouvelle ère, celle qui voit l’accomplissement de l’antique promesse. »
“Il faut que nous ayons confiance en la présence du Seigneur qui marche avec nous. Il nous envoie sur les chemins de la paix. Même s’il faut la force pour maintenir l’ordre ainsi que protéger les innocents, nous cherchons toujours de ne pas abuser de pouvoir et de respecter les autres et leur dignité humaine.
“Certainement, la tragédie de Nice rende encore plus difficile la réponse d’amour. Nous sentons le doleur de tous ces innocents tués par la haine ou au moins par la fragilité d’âme troublé au point de ne pas supporter les poids de son existence de chaque jour.
“Le Père Schmidt, dont j’ai parlé au début de l’homélie, a su se sacrifier pour sauver la vie des autres. Espérons d’être toujours les personnes qui donne la vie au services de nos frères et de savoir toucher les cœurs brisés .
“Avant de faire tourner encore une fois le pauvre Molière dans son tombeau, je vais terminer en anglais.
“Let us hope that we can all be like Father Schmidt, who knew how to sacrifice the all-powerful « I » so as to save the lives of others. May we be always and everywhere givers of life.”