Friday, September 15, 2023
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily at the Mass where he dedicated and consecrated the new church of St. Agnes on Key Biscayne, Sept. 15, 2023.
Congratulations! Felicidades! It’s true! There are three things that can be seen from outer space: the Great Wall of China, the pyramids of Egypt, and St. Agnes of Key Biscayne.
Today, the feast of Mary, the Sorrowful Mother, who stood faithfully beside the cross of Jesus, this new parish church, and the altar upon which Mass will be celebrated, are consecrated. This Church or temple and this altar will be consecrated – set aside from profane uses – so that the signs of God’s presence and love – the Mysteries or Sacraments of Faith – can be fittingly re-presented here.
But even as we set this building apart and make it a sacred place, let us remember that we too have been set apart. These walls will be anointed with chrism as will the altar, to remind us that God dwells here with his people. We must remember that we also were anointed — and as God dwells here as in his temple, we too are his temples, temples of the Holy Spirit.
Here, we do holy things — we hear the Scriptures, we worship and adore Christ present in his most Blessed Sacrament, we celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass and the other sacraments. We do these holy things — so that we can become holy yourselves.
Hoy terminamos la construcción de este templo, capilla con una solemne ceremonia de consagración — del templo y de un nuevo altar. En este altar, nos encontramos con el manantial de gracia que le dio a Santa Inés la fortaleza para derramar su sangre por Cristo y su evangelio. Hoy consagramos este altar. Dedicamos la labor de manos humanas para un propósito sagrado. El Sacrificio de la Nueva Alianza será ofrecido aquí. Aquí Dios convive con su pueblo. Este altar es como el umbral de una puerta. A través de este umbral “pasamos” de lo mundano a lo sagrado, de lo terrenal a lo divino. Aquí nos encontramos con Dios, quien nos abre los portones del cielo.
A beautiful sanctuary can help set the right mood for proper worship. And hopefully these new facilities can help lead you to a more worthy celebration of the sacraments. Of course, the church is not the buildings, it’s the people, the community. So, just as you have worked hard to build these buildings, you must work even harder to continue to build up the community in faith, hope, and love.
You might worship in the most beautiful cathedral in the world, but it would sound a dissonant note in God’s ears — it would be merely like the noisy clanging of a gong — if that worship did not lead you to a deeper conversion of your hearts and minds to the Lord.
Al dedicar este templo y este altar, volvamos también a re-dedicarnos — como individuos y como una comunidad parroquial — para trabajar juntos para el reino de Dios. Que no solo escuchemos la Palabra de Dios, sino que la cumplamos. Que hagamos nuestro ese “si” de María, la Dolorosa, quien se quedó al lado de la Cruz de Cristo.
Nuestras vidas — al igual que la de María — pueden ser marcadas con tribulaciones y dificultades — pero al igual que la vida de María, encontraremos nuestro destino final y felicidad en Dios.
At this altar, we come to the font of grace that gave the martyr, St. Agnes, strength to shed her blood for Christ. As we come to the altar today, Christ asks us not to shed our blood. (Please God we would if he did.) But today Christ asks us – at this altar – to shed any resentment, any anger, any sin that divides us from God or from our neighbor. For here we stand on holy ground and this holy ground is the common ground where we Catholics stand as brothers and sisters in Christ.
This altar is also a table. And we gather around this table in anticipation, in our hope to share one day in the never-ending banquet, the wedding feast of God and humanity that awaits us in heaven where God will seat us at table with him.
God really didn’t need this temple – the earth and all that it contains is his temple. Worship pleasing to God can be offered any place.
No, God didn’t need this church. But you did. The people of Key Biscayne needed this new temple. You needed to bring the entire parish plant and school into the 21st century. You needed a worthy and more spacious place of worship. You needed the many necessary improvements to the school facilities. Yes, of course – all that; but, more importantly, you needed to give, so through your sacrifices you might become more perfectly the Body of Christ you already are because of the Spirit dwelling in you.
As Catholics we believe that God made all things – visible and invisible. He made all things good. And therefore, all creation, all the material things God has given us, can serve as means to help us encounter him. The Son of God became incarnate so that he might more easily bring us to his Father. Because of the incarnation, material things can be used to communicate grace. We believe that the sacraments communicate God’s grace, God’s life to us. What grace is doing is made more comprehensible through the sacramental forms: water, oil, bread and wine; all help communicate the mysteries they symbolize and make present to us. In this way, all the accessories, all the appointments in this church – the ambo, the altar, the candles, the baptistery, stations – they all help communicate to us the great mystery we celebrate here.
Este nuevo templo, gracias a sus sacrificios, es un lugar hermoso y digno para que esta comunidad celebre el misterio eucarístico. En la celebración eucarística, en nuestra comunión en el Cuerpo y la Sangre del Señor, el futuro se hace presente. Cuando Cristo fue sacrificado en el Calvario, el pecado fue derrotado. El dolor se transformó en alegría.
En este altar, ese mismo sacrificio se nos hace presente cada día, para que su victoria sobre el pecado, la muerte y el maligno, sea también la nuestra.
So, this evening, I pray that this church building in all its features will help communicate to you the great Mystery of our Salvation which will be celebrated here every day. This mystery of faith will nourish the hope that makes it possible for you to live your faith in love.