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Acknowledging God's love for us

Archbishop's homily at consecration of City of Fort Lauderdale

Archbishop Wenski and a dozen archdiocesan priest consecrate the Eucharist during the special Mass. The consecration of the City of Fort Lauderdale makes it the fourth city in Florida to be consecrated following Key Biscayne, Doral and the City of Miami.

Photographer: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC

Archbishop Wenski and a dozen archdiocesan priest consecrate the Eucharist during the special Mass. The consecration of the City of Fort Lauderdale makes it the fourth city in Florida to be consecrated following Key Biscayne, Doral and the City of Miami.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily during a Mass Jan. 31 consecrating the City of Fort Lauderdale to the Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The Mass took place at St. Anthony Church and the consecration was arranged by the Mission for the Love of God Worldwide.

I welcome to this Mass his honor, Mayor Jack Seiler, city commissioners and other officials of the City of Ft. Lauderdale. In his capacity as mayor of “the Venice of America,” he will join me in offering the prayer consecrating this city and all who live within its boundaries to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. I also welcome those who have helped promote this event, an event that is like similar acts of consecration that have taken place in our cities and communities throughout the hemisphere.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preaches the homily during the Mass of consecration of the City of Fort Lauderdale,  celebrated at St. Anthony Catholic Church.

Photographer: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preaches the homily during the Mass of consecration of the City of Fort Lauderdale, celebrated at St. Anthony Catholic Church.

Our Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, in his encyclical, Spe Salvi, observed that a “world without God is a world without hope.” And, with the ascendant secularism of our time, many believe that one can organize society or live their lives “etsi Deus non daretur” – as if God doesn’t matter. This ascendant secularism is increasingly taking on radical forms, forms that threaten to undermine religious liberty and change the way people understand reality. This relativistic ideology holds for a radical autonomy by which truth is determined not by the nature of things but by one’s own individual will; in other words, it pretends that anyone can essentially create his or her own reality.

But just as we cannot defy the truth of gravity by our willing it away, we cannot “construct” and “deconstruct” truth. Rather truth is received – and must reflect the reality of things. To embrace relativism is to repeat the errors of the secular utopias of the 20th century and is a recipe for tyranny. The promise of freedom, the proud legacy of our Founders, is only achievable, however, through adherence to objective truth, a truth we do not – and could never – invent. Prayer is an act of humility – but the humble person is not someone who puts himself or herself down but someone who sees the truth, who sees himself or herself as he or she really is. As opposed to the arrogance of the relativist, the man and woman of faith pray; in this way, they acknowledge that they are not “self-creators” but creatures, sons and daughters of God “the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”

Today’s act of consecration brings together citizens to pray for their city – that we do so is a particular expression of our rights guaranteed by the first amendment of our nation’s constitution. Praying for our city, praying not for any partisan advantage or cause but for the common good is certainly an expression of civic responsibility on the part of those who do believe that God does matter. But, at the same time, today’s consecration is, for us Catholics, an opportunity to renew and deepen our baptismal consecration as a response to the love of Jesus and his mother, Mary, for each one of us. As Pope Francis recently said in speaking to a group of Lutherans, “We find ourselves professing our faith in the context of societies and cultures every day more lacking in reference to God and all that recalls the transcendent dimension of life.” Therefore, he says, “Our witness must concentrate on the center of our faith, on the announcement of the love of God made manifest in Christ his Son.”

The Heart of Jesus was pierced with a soldier’s lance at the crucifixion; at the same time, Mary’s heart was pierced by a sword of sorrows. In the Immaculate Heart of His Mother, the Sacred Heart of Jesus is mirrored. The human heart both in Scripture and in literature represents the personal center of an individual; the heart symbolizes love. In consecrating our city to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, we wish to acknowledge their love – a love through which Jesus and Mary want to lead us to a selfless love of God and neighbor. It is through such selfless love that we can become good citizens both of the City of Man and the City of God – for it is through selfless love that we grow in the holiness to which we have been called as human beings created in the image and likeness of God who is love.

The City of Fort Lauderdale is a young city – scarcely more than a century old. But it is also a young city in its population – a city of families raising children. It is a world class international business center – one of the most desirable locations for new, expanding or relocating businesses. (And I got this from the City of Fort Lauderdale’s website.) And it is true – this is a great place to live, to work, and to raise a family.

It is a city, like the rest of America, which is growing in diversity, a diversity of cultures and ethnicities that enrich us all. In fact, we could say that the forces of globalization have conspired in one way or another to throw us together as neighbors. Certainly this globalization which is affecting everybody in every corner of the world will continue to influence and shape this city as it moves into the 21st century.

Yet, while globalization has made us neighbors, it doesn’t necessarily make us brothers and sisters. And this is one more reason for us to gather this evening to consecrate our city to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

As I said, in doing so, we acknowledge their love for us – a love which Providence has shown us in so many ways. But in acknowledging their love for us, represented by their pierced hearts, we wish to renew our hearts – so that we might think, speak, work and love as they do.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us! Following the example of your love, may we whom destiny has placed together in this great city as neighbors learn to live together in harmony, in justice, in peace; may we learn to live together as brothers and sisters. Amen.

Comments from readers

Shawn - 02/04/2014 12:46 PM
I was present that evening for this most beautiful mass. It gave me such joy to see so many attend and to have so many clergy present, including Chorbishop Michael Thomas of the Heart of Jesus (how appropriate) parish a mile away--an Eastern Catholic (Maronite Rite) presence in support of our fine city. Thanks be to God for this blessed consecration.

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