|Photo of Christ in Hagia Sofia. Istanbul (Wikipedia)|
Please click here for my main post for Sunday's Feast of Christ The King.
As an extra reflection for today, I've added two homilies from the late Fr. Matthew Kelty for the feast day of Christ The King below.
The first homily on Christ the King is from Cycle C, and is where we finish the liturgical cycle for the year and was given by Fr. Kelty in 2001. Click here to read "We Sing For The Kingdom."
The second from (Cycle B) Nov. 25th, 1975 (Luke 23:35-43)] is posted below in its entirety. His words strike me as challenging and profound and certainly worth pondering, especially in the debate about the secular world, and the role of new evangelisation.
One likes to think that the scarcity of kings made this development easier. As long as there were many living kings in office in the world we know, it was not always in good taste to connect the Lord and Savior with their breed. There are those Henrys' and Richards' and Charles' and Louis', whose company is no great honor. Similarly, it would be somewhat awkward to call Christ our President and so associate Him with Johnson, Nixon, Harding, Coolidge and other worthies.
Yet we must be careful. The Lord was almost at pains to mingle not merely with the poor and lowly, but also with sinners, even sinful rulers.
It would be an error to assume, I think, that kingship must be bleached of all stain before it can be applied to Christ the Lord. Even the saintly kings were quite human, not to say few. The best were blemished.
Because kingship is a secular business. So is being man. Being human. Being on earth. Christ's Kingdom is not merely a declaration that His Kingdom is far and away superior to any earthly facsimile, however reasonable. It is better to say and to see that kingship as such, being king, has by His state, become something not merely secular but also sacred. Kingship now has a dignity it never had before.
But so has being man. Being human. Being alive. Being here.
There is no such thing as secular any more. Or, if you like, no such thing as sacred. Or, to save theology, may we not say that sacred and secular are now wed?
When God became man, God did not disappear, nor did man. But something new is at hand: we have One who is at once both God and man.
This man is God. This God is man. This King is divine. This President is immortal. This reign is everlasting. This term of office eternal.
But everything is changed by that fact. Men are no longer merely men. Earth no longer merely earth. There is nothing only secular. Mere bread now becomes body. Mere wine blood. And divine Body. Divine Blood.
Just what is going to happen at the end of time we really do not know. We have, as I understand it, just a few hints. I do think it can be said that this world will perish. But it can also be said that it will perdure. It will be changed; that seems basic. Glorified. Transfigured. Renewed.
Or revealed. What will be revealed is the sacrality of the secular. The holiness of the profane. The glory of the common.
For bread and wine and human flesh, human life, and human loss, kings and crowns and royal robes, pain and suffering and death, are somehow, in some way, caught up in the divine.
And it is for us also to be caught up in the divine, to enter into it, be transfigured by it, that human kind become God kind.
I thought of that the other week when we anointed the sick. We had Mass right after, you recall. And that's what came to me: This is my body. This is my blood. Each of us can say: this is my body. And when disease comes, death comes: this is my body you are breaking. This is my blood you are drinking. My life you are taking. Who is breaking? Who is drinking? The Lord of life and of death? Is God eating man? Or man consuming God?
Whose life is this? Whose death? We are transformed into Him. So we enter His Kingdom.
Thus what we celebrate today has not happened yet. It is to come. But it happens every day. Comes every day. The ever deepening mingling of God and man, Heaven and earth, time and eternity.
It is not only, as the papers said, that Grant Park became a church when John Paul said Mass there for a million. Or Phoenix Park. Or Yankee Stadium. Or the Mall in Washington.
The world became a church when Jesus appeared on it. And everyone on earth is in that church. And in that church glorious praise is sung to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He who reigns forever and ever. Good music.
Blessed are you if you can hear that music. More than blessed if you can sing it. Amen."
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Winter Compline sung by monks of Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky - home to the late Fr. Matthew Kelty and Thomas Merton.
In addition there's a couple of beautiful articles from Fr. Kelty on Monastic life: "Our Impractical Life here and "The Ideal Of A Monastic Life here."
Finally I've added links at the end of this post to more of his Advent homilies.
Previous related posts from my archives related to Fr. Kelty are here, here and here.
MY SONG IS OF MERCY
If you want to know more about the man himself, the extract below is taken from a beautiful tribute article to him (click here), written after his death in 2011 by Louis Ruprecht, titled “The Gift of Gay”
"Father Matthew also wrote a book. But his reasons for doing so were far less personal than Merton’s; they were, for lack of a better term, political. Father Matthew Kelty published a collection of homilies and spiritual essays entitled My Song is of Mercy (edited by Michael Downey) in 1994. “Sex is no problem. Love is."
The most startling, and one of the most moving, piece in that volume is the epilogue, entitled “Celibacy and the Gift of Gay.” Father Matthew Kelty decided, in anticipation of his ninetieth year, to uncloset his monastic self, and thus to attempt to describe what gifts gay and lesbian Christians have to contribute to the complex tapestry of Christian communion.
He did so because he had come to feel a responsibility to those “least among us” who were not moving on a path toward acceptance in as straight a line as many in the late ’60s and early ’70s had hoped. But you also hear more than a subtle echo of what Matthew learned from Merton’s heterosexual torment.
It remains true that given our national climate, it will take a while to let love loose. And then to let love grow, deeper, greater, wider.In short, he wrote for others, never himself. Even in this, the most personal of spiritual confessions, the subject was not Father Matthew at all; it was humanity, the world, the Church, his astonishing and all-encompassing compassionate embrace of the Creation of which he saw himself an indelible part.
I may as well make it clear: ...[this] is why so many heterosexuals abandon celibacy after a decade or two: they cannot handle it: they need an external woman to awaken the inner one, especially in our culture. Perhaps in a less divided one they do better...
And since those who tend to worry will worry here about sex, the answer is simple: sex is no problem. Love is. Where there is no love you can expect sex to emerge. All men want love, celibates too. Sex can be one way of loving, but it is absurd to say: no sex is no love, as absurd as saying sex is love.
A celibate priesthood, community, is a grace for the Church, a song of the Kingdom (where there will be no marriage but all will be whole),and a joy for all in it. There are none more called to it, more capable of it, more created for it, than the people we call gay. They begin from day one a process of integration others do not even have a hint of before they are 40. Bless them! " (My Song is of Mercy, 258-259; italics mine)
Merton lobbied hard to gain permission to live slightly apart from his community, in a small hermitage up the hill from the dormitory of Gethsemani—that some monks would resent his special pleading and special treatment was inevitable. But Father Matthew never did. Rather, he credited Merton with returning him and his fellow monks’ thoughts to the central values of mysticism and of solitude. It is only in such a manner that the monk can find the divine love in which celibacy makes sense.
Delightfully, the image of such God-infused love came to Father Matthew on his first experience with a motorcycle.
“One day everything fell together and I was mounted,” he says somewhat playfully and naughtily. “Is this a good way to make love? I do not know. I know only that it was for me.”
The meeting of the bride within is not had merely for the asking. Her hand must be won; love of her must be proven. Heroic effort is taken as a matter of course... Notwithstanding many find her, and these are the people who have truly lived. It is these who know God and who will see his face because they know what love is.Recall the central insight that made his own monastic life possible: “Sex is no problem. Love is.” This was arguably his most distinctive insight; not owed to Merton (save as a decisive counterexample), it was all Matthew’s own.
The question of celibacy is discussed often on too shallow a level, and surely so if the mystical level is dismissed. To do that is to reduce celibacy to an act of prowess which as likely as not can end only in ruining the person. Celibacy without a deep love affair is a disaster. It is not even celibacy. It’s just not getting married. And the world has enough of such people, married and otherwise.Sex is no problem. Love is. So celibacy is badly misunderstood if it is imagined as an unmarried life without sex. That just re-inscribes the sex obsessions of our own day.
Celibacy is a love affair—a love affair with God. That’s what you got from Father Matthew: his quiet, yet at times overwhelming, passionate love of God. He was infused with it, it cam pouring out of him in every homily, every letter, every smiling glance.
His most common prayer was a prayer for peace. His fundamental spiritual orientation was toward everlasting mercy, mercy he sang like a song and lived like a love affair. And as American Catholicism continues to rethink its relation to Rome, and its cultural future in embattled times, it is all the more important for us to remember that such voices as Father Matthew’s existed in the Roman, or any, church.
For the good people keep on leaving, just as other ones arrive."
Click here for a tribute to Fr. Kelty on his death in 2011 from Deacon Greg Kandra.
Click here for a useful index of more of Fr Matthew Kelty's general homilies- all provide much for reflection and well worth reading.
The liturgical cycle of scripture readings for Advent is shown in brackets below.
This year we start Advent using cycle A readings. Unfortunately, in the list below the First and Fourth Advent Sundays are missing, but there is still plenty of wisdom in these homilies, regardless of which liturgical cycle we happen to be in.
You may need to go to your "View function" on your browser toolbar and use "Zoom In" to read these in larger print.
- First Sunday Advent (C) 1997 You Are There
- Second Sunday Advent (A)1990 Secular Time and God's Time.
- Second Sunday Advent (A) 1998 Mystical Time God's Now
- Second Sunday Advent (A) 1995 The Spirit of The Messiah.
- Second Sunday Advent (B) 2002 Three Kinds of Waiting
- Third Sunday Advent (A) 2004 Rejoice All is From God !
- Third Sunday Advent (C) 2000 Seeking Authentic Reality
- Fourth Sunday Advent (B) 1996 The Three Fold Tree and Our Shallow Waters.