Homily for Mass, St Augustine’s Church, Ottawa

[Readings: 1 Thess 4:9-11;  Ps 98;  Mt 25:14-30]

If you haven’t met me before, so that you’re not distracted through Mass trying to figure out my accent: I’m from Brisbane, Australia!  I’m here in Ottawa to study canon law at St Paul University, and am just beginning my second year here.

As we pray today we might remember in our prayers the soul of the retired Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Ambrozic, who died yesterday.  Cardinal Ambrozic was a noted supporter of the pro-life work, and took difficult stances that earned him criticism for defending life.

Firstly I’d like to say thank-you to each of you for being here this morning.  As we pray for an end to abortion and for the establishment of a pro-life medical centre in Ottawa, it’s important that our pro-life endeavours begin in prayer, and return us to prayer.  In prayer we come into the presence of God who is love, and it’s God who sustains us to love our brothers and sisters.  In the first reading St Paul urges the Thessalonians to love all the brothers and sisters … more and more.  It’s love, above everything else, that motivates us in the pro-life cause.  Our hearts break at the thought of the killing of children, and they also break at the suffering that the wound of abortion makes on the souls of mothers, fathers and anyone associated in any way.  Love prompts us to act so that, indeed, abortion will become unthinkable in our lifetime.

I’m not sure if it was intentional, but it’s certainly a marvelous working of God’s designs that we should come to offer Mass at St Augustine’s church on the feast day of his mother, St Monica.

This family, with St Monica, her husband Patricius, and Augustine as the eldest son, was a wounded family if ever there was one.  Patricius was a civil servant with a bad temper and a disdain for his wife’s religion.  Monica bore patiently with Patricius’ treatment of her, including his infidelity.  She experienced great grief when he refused to allow their three children to receive Baptism.

Monica’s patience and prayers saw the conversion and baptism of her husband, one year before his death.  However, her Son, Augustine, was yet to cause her many more years of grief.  At first, not sure what to do, Monica shunned her son, but she had a dream one night in which a messenger assured her: “Your son is with you.”  She sought the advice of clergy, and one bishop reassured her that it was “impossible that the son of such tears should perish.”  In other words, there was not way God would not respond to her love.

The bishops words came to pass.  Monica’s years of tears and prayers for her son bore fruit when Augustine came under the influence of the Bishop of Milan – St Ambrose.  Augustine was moved by the preaching of Ambrose, and eventually “succumbed to God’s grace” and received baptism.

When standing outside abortion facilities praying, it’s interesting to hear some of the comments that people make as they pass and realize what we’re doing.  The other day one fellow said out loud as he walked past, “Keep praying, it might just work!”  I’m not sure if he was being facetious, but I’ve been thinking about his words.  I think we’re involved in the pro-life cause, not because we think our prayers might work, but rather because we believe that our prayers will work and are working!  We don’t necessarily see the results, but they’re there.

We have high profile stories like that of Abby Johnson.  But just the other day LifeSite News reported of another woman who worked for Planned Parenthood who has had a pro-life conversion.  The report stated: “Just like Abby Johnson, [Ramona] Trevino credits a 40 Days for Life campaign outside her Planned Parenthood facility with helping her movement towards a pro-life way of thinking.  After the 40 Days campaign came to Sherman, she says she went from believing she was providing a service to women in need, to realizing that Planned Parenthood “treated women like cattle and how they only cared about making money” – a realization she says was “long overdue.”” http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/the-new-abby-johnson-planned-parenthood-manager-quits-and-converts-to-pro-l

God, of course, is the one who works all conversions.  However, God uses us in his loving designs.  God used St Monica’s tears, her prayers, her sacrifices for her husband and her son.  God used the clergy who encouraged Monica to persevere in loving prayer.  God used St Ambrose to touch Augustine’s heart.  God is the author of all that, but God uses our human contribution.

In the Gospel parable today, Jesus tells us that we are to make use of what God gives us.  We’re not to be like the ‘worthless slave’ who hid what the Master had given him.  We’re to take a risk, and use whatever it is God has given us.

Our contribution to the pro-life cause is one way that we put to use the talents God has given us.  God has gifted us in different ways, and so we have different offerings to make: prayer, fasting, almsgiving, coming to these Masses, participating in the 40 days for life, praying outside Bank St.  As the Gospel parable indicates, some are given more, some less.  But irrespective of what ‘talent’ God has given us, we’re challenged to use it.

Friends, we give encouragement to each other by being here today.  As we offer Mass, we ask God to strengthen us with his grace and to help us to see the gifts he has given us.  May we put those gifts at the service of those in need of his mercy and love: particularly those tempted by abortion, those who have had abortions, and those who are caught up in the abortion industry in any way.  Let us never stop crying out to the Lord for an end to abortion, for we believe not that our prayers might work: but that our prayers are already being heard by the Lord, and being used according to his loving plans.