This coming Sunday (23 August 2020) is the 12th Sunday after Pentecost in the Extraordinary Form. The following is a homily by Father Valentine Young, OFM, who died on 17 January 2020. We received permission to post these homilies, as well as to correct “grammatical errors, etc.” To learn more about Father Valentine, scroll to the bottom of the page. These homilies were all delivered sometime between 2013 and 2020.
Homily • 12th Sunday after Pentecost
AINT KATHERINE DREXEL was the daughter of a rich—yes, a millionaire!—banker of Philadelphia, PA. On one occasion she got to visit with the then-reigning Pope Leo XIII. In their conversation she told the Holy father that she felt there was little being done around that time (namely in the late 1800s) for evangelizing the Indians and Black people in the United States. (These were the words used at that time to refer to these people; and I am certainly not wanting to be racially insensitive by using these terms, even though they may not currently be in use much.) She told the Holy Father that perhaps he should start some religious order or community to start working with these people, to bring them the truth of the Catholic religion. She complained that—at that time in history—no religious communities seem to be devoted to that work. Perhaps with tongue in cheek the Pope asked her: “Then why don’t you start one?”
Sisters of Blessed Sacrament: The short version of the story is that Katherine Drexel returned home and made plans for herself to become a religious sister and to found a community of sisters whose work would be with Indians and “colored,” mainly in the United States. In a movie of her life, I was especially impressed by this incident. The thought or idea which occurred to her was that the best way to help these people would be by giving them the opportunity to get an education—and, of course, learn about the Catholic faith in the process.
Establishment: She managed to do this (I believe it was in 1891) and her community grew and flourished until the onslaught which followed the Second Vatican Council. At one time, there were over 600 sisters serving in 64 schools, and even a college or university. Unfortunately they—like so many others—were affected by what I will call “the Vatican II bug.” I hear that now there are only about 45 sisters left, and most of them are over eighty.
Reason for topic: I bring up this topic because of today’s Gospel, which tells us we must love our fellow man and do what we can for him, both spiritually and materially. Saint Katherine Drexel knew that the best way the people would be genuinely and permanently helped would be by receiving a good education; and she used her millions of inheritance to help bring this about. I always considered myself privileged for being able to serve as Pastor at one of the places in Houck, Arizona, where she built a church and grade school. I knew that this (now canonized) religious had visited this mission and attended Mass there when she was visiting her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.
Today’s Gospel: Today’s Gospel speaks of: Genuine love of God and neighbor. Soup kitchens and homeless shelters may be necessary for temporary needs and measures, but they are not the solution for genuine help. And if they only enable one to continue in their needy plight, they may in the long run end up doing more harm than good.
Conclusion: And then when political motives get involved in these issues, it just makes things all the worse. In the meanwhile, the people needing genuine help are still left out in the cold. I know in preaching I have to be careful not to become “political”—but I do think I should warn you (or make you aware) that not everything come from some Catholic pulpits is necessarily genuinely Catholic or true Catholic social teaching. I think our Saint Katherine Drexel gives us good advice and example. Even though her community may not seem to have been long in this world, the results and effects of her foresight will last a long time.