“Cut it the Hell Out”
Father Mark Augustine celebrated the 11:30 Mass on August 8 and delivered, what may be, his final OLW Homily (at least for a while, as he leaves for Canada next week to continue his Canon Law training). His parting message was beautiful, strong and clear — truly a gift for all of us.
Here is the text of Fr. Mark’s homily…
St. Paul gives us a very simple message today. Its 3 verses. Get rid of bitterness, fury, anger, shouting. Remove it all. Replace it with love, compassion, and forgiveness. Do this in imitation of God. Now this is not just a pious thought or a word of encouragement from St. Paul. He is not saying this would be a good idea for you to do or take it under consideration. Rather he says: it must be removed from you. Don’t waste time with this but just do it. When I was in seminary my spiritual director, one of the priests on faculty, a very revered man, he would sometimes look at me: well Mark, are you doing X? Yes. Should you be? No. That’s right, now cut it the hell out.
It’s kind of funny, but I get what he was saying. Is there an area of your life that isn’t given over to God? Is there something that doesn’t belong? If so, get rid of it. That is how we begin to grow in virtue. We get rid of those areas of our life which do not belong to God. Get rid of the vice, whatever it may be. Whether we’re dealing with addictions, negative influencers, or even minor bad habits – if it doesn’t belong to God – or bring him glory. Cut it the hell out as my spiritual director would say.
Now I know there are a lot of difficulties with this. We can’t always get rid of people in our life that may be having a bad influence, at least not easily. Or the immense challenges of breaking any sort of addiction in our life. Sometimes we don’t even want to worry about small things in our life, like vulgar language or something. Sometimes we just don’t we just refuse to put in the effort – for any number of reasons. But stick with me here.
If we are not working on those areas of our life that separate us from God, what are we doing? Are we allowing ourselves to grow in love for God – to live in the life of grace he is offering us? To allow that virtue, wisdom, and love to take ahold of our hearts? Hopefully I’m not saying anything that sounds foreign to us. All the Spirit of God to wash any sin from your heart. Anything that keeps you away from God, or neighbor, or family. Give it over to God, and be restored. Live in the life he is offering.
I think there are a couple of ways we can go about this: we need the desire, the humility, and the grace to do it.
Desire – do I want to be holier? Do I seek to get rid of bad habits in my life? Am I motivated to do so or not? If we lack the desire, then I think of this growth potential will never bear fruit.
Humility – am I am humble enough to acknowledge I can’t do this on my own. The path of holiness is never an isolated event. Nobody becomes a saint on their own. We need the aid of our brothers and sisters in Christ – both the living and the dead. We have to acknowledge that if we try on our own merits, we will not succeed, or at least not be as successful as we could be.
Grace – Thirdly, and most importantly, we need God’s grace. Grace is a participation in the divine life. It is something freely given to us by God in order to grow in holiness – or to turn away from temptation – or to have the strength for the task ahead of us. God wants us to be saints. He wants us to grow in holiness and be the best version of ourselves – the ones he created us to be. He will aid us along the way with his grace. All we have to do is ask for it.
I have a homework assignment for everybody. I’m getting back in the school mindset and working towards assignments and coursework and everything. Now there is no way to grade this or check in that was done, especially with me finally heading to Canada next week, but I would still like to offer this as a possibility:
Take some time every day this week – 10-15 minutes even. Take that time to examine your conscience, to examine your life through the lens of prayer. See those areas of bitterness, fury, or anger – and any other vice that you would like get rid of. Ask God for the grace to overcome it. Ask him for the grace to not let anger or jealousy or frustration have a grip on your heart. Ask God to allow your heart to be free to love as you should.
Now I feel the best way to do this and to do it prayerfully is to first go to a spot where you can pray. Not in front of the television or while you’re grocery shopping. But go to a spot – maybe even coming here for a few minutes a silence in your day – where you can dedicate the space and time to God. Begin by calming your mind – take time to transition into prayer. So often, I think we can be running and being so busy that we sit down to prayer without allowing our minds to quiet down a bit. Give yourself that time to shift from active to a more passive mindset.
After you’ve done those two things, ask God to reveal to your heart what he wants you to see. Some area or sin in your life to address and work on and ultimately be healed from. Then reflect on that area. Why do we hold on to it? How strong is it in our life? How could we address it and move forward? Ask God for the grace to do that then. Finally, give God a moment of thanks for whatever he may have shown you – or perhaps something else during your day that you are grateful for.
We all have areas in our life that can be improved. We will never reach perfection on this side of eternity. So what are they ways we need to grow? How will we go about it? So how will we walk as imitators of God and live in love as Christ loved us? How can we help others to do the same?
Our Lady of the Wayside wishes Father Mark God’s choicest blessings as he continues on his faith journey and becomes a Canon Lawyer (#differencemaker). We extend profound gratitude for the time he spent with our parish family this past year or so.
Father Mark, you’ll always have a home here at OLW! Know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.
If you would like to send well wishes to Father Mark, here’s his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: #frmarkaugustine, #homily, #markaugustine, #reflection