This article is based on part of a sermon Fr. Leo Patalinghug gave at the University of Steubenville.
We’re here to get to Heaven.
We are here to be witnesses of our faith.
We are here to do work for our salvation and to build up the kingdom of God.
You are not here to fulfill any type of obligation. You are here … I can’t presume anything, so let me just ask. I know this is active participation, but raise your hand if this applies to you. How many of you even want to get to Heaven?
Okay. Pretty good. Dude back there was like, “Like, now?” And there was another guy, he was like, “You gonna go? I’ll go if you go.” No. I’m serious.
What’s the alternative, brother? If knowing that many of you want to get to Heaven, let me ask. How many of you are going to become saints. Raise your hand… Awkward.
I’m going to have to drop the F bomb on you people, the faith bomb. What did you think I was going to say? 🙂
The faith bomb is simply this. The only ones who get to Heaven are saints. That’s what you’re working to become.
And the only way we can do that is if we’re willing to not only say to the Lord,
“I’m not worthy to have you in under my roof, in my soul. I’m not even worthy to be here and church.”
And I know that sounds kind of silly, but a lot of people even think that you’re doing us a favor by being in church. And that’s not true at all. We’re unworthy even to be under the Lord’s roof.
Thank God He’s merciful and welcomes us.
But I’ve got to admit, there was a point in my life when I didn’t want to go to church.
Anyone else feel that way? Thank you for those who raised your hand. Thank you for being honest. The rest of y’all, I’ll see you in the confessional, all right, because the fact is sometimes I didn’t want to go to church because I was bored.
I turned to my mother one day because this priest just went on and on and on and on. And I looked at my mother and said, “I am going to kill myself.” And she said, “You picked a good place to do it.”
Right? Because at least I know that I’m in God’s house. Because really, if you want to get to Heaven, you’re going to have to employ some real humility in order to be healed.
Because people who are healed experience holiness, so we’re going to keep it real simple and just say three H’s for you to remember.
What Does it Mean to Have Humility? Admitting Our Fault
And the first one is the humility to know and say that, “My God, I’ve been blessed with everything, and I’ve really mucked things up, God. And therefore, the challenges that I have in my life, it’s not your fault. It’s my fault.”
Why do we constantly blame God for everything bad that goes on? You know whose fault it is? The democrats and the republicans and anyone else who is not promoting the reality that our country is one nation under God. That’s the problem.
When people stop being humble enough, when people are not humble, they can’t realize that they need healing, so humility is one of these elusive virtues.
But it’s a virtue we all need. And let me tell you, I stink at humility. Anyone here really good at being humble?
You who raised your hand are the most prideful person in this room right now because if you think you are humble, you are prideful.
I know people who are so proud of their humility. “I wrote a book, it’s a bestseller, How to Be Humble.” No. Humility is a word from the Latin humus.
And it’s not the dip that you get in Mediterranean recipes. Humus means dirt.
And there is a moment in our life on a certain Wednesday, 40 days before Holy Week, where we recognize humility because the minister will put dirt on your face and say,
“Repent, and believe in the good news.”
Or, another ancient formula is this, “You are dirt, and to dirt you will return.” The word humble from humus means dirt.
That’s what we have to lament about, that we see ourselves as something bigger. But really what we are, we’re just going to become ashes at the end of our life.
And that’s why I need you to take that day seriously. Please don’t wipe it off your face the next Ash Wednesday. But at the same time, don’t be proud of it either.
Don’t be like, “Take a look at this.” I mean, it’s so funny because you now know a little bit about what a priest feels like, or a nun, when they have to go out in public wearing a habit, me with my collar, you with those ashes.
People look at you and they’re like, “Dude, you got dirt on your face.” And I say, “You looking at my ash?”
Because the fact is, they are looking at your ash because they are looking for someone who’s going to teach this world what we really need, humility. We need more humility.
Beg for it, because if you don’t, you won’t experience the second H, which is healing.
What Does it Mean to Have Humility? Receiving Healing
Humble people are those going to the doctor and saying, “I’m sick.”
Humble people are those who go to the gym and don’t pay attention to all those buffed bodies.
But they go to the gym and they work on the areas of their weakness.
You see, I think it’s a very humble thing when someone goes to a gym, whether it be for the body or for the soul, also known as confession.
And they experience that pain of lifting that burden. But you know what that pain is, it’s what the marines say, “weakness leaving the body.”
And the reality is in our lack of humility, we don’t know what needs healing in our life. And that is why a humble person presents themselves to the Lord completely. We need to be healed.
And I’ll tell you, and I’ll just confess this to you. There are parts of my body that need some serious healing, which is why I wear black. It’s very slimming. All right.
But the reality of me as a priest and as a speaker, you know what needs healing. You’re going to think parts of your body that might be connected to human love. Yes, that certainly needs to be given to God.
But I remember my spiritual director telling me, “Oh, Leo.” He was an Irish guy. “Oh, Leo. Every morning I give everything to Jesus, my toes, my feet, my ankles, my shins.” He kept going, folks.
And I’m thinking,
“He’s doing that because he’s a humble, holy man. He knows that every part of our body has sinned.”
And that’s why if you want to go to Heaven, you’ve got to make sure that all parts of us are redeemed by God.
And there is one part of my body that needs some serious redemption. It’s my ears because I’m not always good at listening.
I’m okay at speaking. I’m not always good at listening, which is why this past year I ventured into something that I kind of heard the Lord say to me in my prayer: “You need to work on listening.”
“You’re speaking all over the planet on TV every Friday at 6:30 PM on EWTN.” (Check your local listings!)
I’m speaking across the country, around the world. But I’ve got to be a better listener, which is why I ventured into my new, not podcast. I actually call it audio cast because the word audio means to listen. My audio cast is called Shoot the Shiitake with Father Leo.
And in this podcast, audio cast, I listen to people who aren’t Catholic. I speak to a transgender person, a gay couple, an ex priest, an ex Catholic, ex cons, a KKK member. I do that on the phone because I’m afraid to do it live.
But my job is to listen, which is exactly what Jesus encourages us to do. He listens. And I am not condoning anything.
But at the same time, I’m not condemning them, even though I have to be willing to listen to the cries and the complaints.
And at the end of my podcast, I ask every guest, “How can I, even if we have very different opinions on things, and even moral belief systems, how can I be a good priest for you?”
And that’s a question that many of them have never been asked. They’ve never heard, for whatever reason, the church is a church of dialogue, which is what Pope Francis wants, a church that’s willing to listen to each other.
And even though we disagree, we don’t have to consider it hate speech and have a march, because I have sinned as well as anyone else, which is why if there’s one place where we all need to be marching to, is to the confessional.
What Does it Mean to Have Humility? Becoming Saints
Why should we march to the confessional? Because it is in the confessional where I find holiness.
You know where I find saints? In the confessional, because there they experience the humility of knowing who they are.
And they experience the healing because they’re willing to bring their brokenness to the Lord, who will heal because He is the authority of our biology.
He and His theology is the maker of even our psychology. And if our world, our sociology, needs healing, it’s because we need theology, the logic of God.
Brothers and sisters, how many of you want to get to Heaven? Put your hands down. Then how many of you are willing to let the work of God in you so that you can become saints?
Then having said that, experience the humility of our Lord Jesus, who healed all people and showed His holiness to His saints, including those we commemorate today, the first Christian martyrs.
You’ve got to realize that the first 300 years were considered the age of martyrs, people willing to literally die for their faith.
Today, the Franciscans, the Franciscans who work here, they celebrate the priest, Raymond Llull, who converted Muslims in Africa to Christianity because he gave Jesus his mind as a philosopher, which not only helped heal any confusion for the Muslim people, but more importantly, healed their mind of not knowing who God is.
There is great need for healing in this world.
And it’s only going to happen when we present ourselves as sick, and thank God when we give our body, mind, and soul to the Lord, he makes an awesome exchange in the Eucharist.
And in the Eucharist, He enters into us and literally gives us a blood transfusion so that He cannot only be our healer, He can be the one who makes you into saints.
That’s our job. That’s why we celebrate this liturgy, a word that means work in Greek. You are not here to feel comfortable, but to be comforted.
If you were here to feel comfortable, we’d be passing out popcorn, and these seats would recline.
But they don’t because we need to be upright and ready to go to the divine physician and say to him,
“Lord, I am not worthy to be under your roof. And I am not worthy to have you under my roof. But if you say the word, in my humility I will be healed.”
For more from Fr. Leo on nourishing both the body and the spirit, take at look at his popular work, Grace before Meals: half cookbook and half spiritual reflection!