Villa Duchesne / City House Alumnae Mass 2018

     For most of human history, our ancient ancestors explained the phenomenon of the universe through mythology. It wasn’t until the Pre-Socratic thinkers of the 6th century BCE that our ancestors began to try and rationally explain these phenomenon and the precursors to our modern schools was founded. As these philosophers started to rationally investigate our world they quickly realized that our world is in a constant state of flux leading one of these Pre-Socratic Philosophers, Heraclitus, to famously remark that “you cannot step in the same river twice.”[1]

     I suspect that as we gather here with alumnae, old and new, many of us are experiencing this flux. Whether you are a member of the last graduating class from City House celebrating your 50th anniversary, a member of the newest alumnae from the class of 2018 or somewhere in between each of us is in our own way must feel like Heraclitus looking at the river. Looking around we realize that we are not looking at the same water from the past, yet we are still looking at the same riverbed. For as much as things have changed within the walls of this castle over the past 4, 12, 25 or 50 years there is something that endures which continues to ground us. While the teachers, the methods of teaching, and even students flow through here like water in a river, the traditions, much like the riverbed, endure and continue to ground those who have already flowed through.

     Just as tradition grounds you to this illustrious institution, tradition also grounds us in our relationship with God. In fact, our entire Catholic faith is just that, lived Tradition. You see as Christians we believe that God the Father sent His Son into the world to be our savior. Knowing that He would rise and ascend to the right hand of the Father, Jesus established the Church on the rock of St. Peter as the means of continuing His saving presence in the world. For 2,000 years the Church has continued this saving mission of Christ by handing on our sacred Tradition.

     While Jesus no longer physically walks this earth, every time we gather at this Eucharist, we come into direct contact with Him. But Jesus does not simply blind us as He did to St. Paul, no He enters into us and unites Himself to us. In other words, every time we come to the Mass Jesus roots us ever more deeply in relationship with God similar to how the traditions of this institution root you more deeply as a child of the Sacred Heart and to this school. For isn’t it true that every time you see the villa plaid uniform around town, every time you come back to attend an alumnae event, or even come back to watch your friends, children or grandchildren at traditions like Maypole your relationship with the school is strengthened? So too, every time we partake in the Traditions of the Church our relationship with Christ is strengthened.

     While your Sacred Heart traditions and this sacred Tradition of the Eucharist are similar, there is one major difference. The traditions of this institution serve as a reminder of a reality, but the Eucharist isn’t just a reminder of a reality, it is the reality; Jesus Christ Himself. Look Jesus is clear in today’s Gospel when He tells us that whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life. I don’t know about you, but I cannot fathom how the God who loves us so much as to die on the cross for us would tell us how to have eternal life, but then not offer it to us. Of course, if we fast forward to the Last Supper where Jesus takes bread and wine and transfigures it into His own body and blood and then gives the command that we should do likewise we see that Jesus offers us this food of eternal life here at the Mass. So, as we gather here this morning at this sacred Tradition of the Mass we are once again brought into His presence as we are taken back to the Upper Room at the Last Supper and out to the hill of Calvary where Christ offered Himself for us.

     It seems that Heraclitus’s 8,000-year-old insight that our world is in a constant state of flux still rings true in our time. In the midst of the flowing waters of change our challenge is to find stability in the permanence of the riverbed. Today amidst all of the change in your life you have come here to the traditions of Villa not seeking to be entertained but rather to connect with the stability of this institution. As we gather today each of us is once again invited to find Jesus who is “the same yesterday, today and forever,”[2] as a stabilizing force in the flux of life and once again commit ourselves to the weekly participation of this sacred Tradition of the Mass, not because it provides us with entertainment, but because it connects us to the most stabilizing force of Jesus Christ who makes Himself present to us in the most profound way in the Mass.

[1] Plutarch, On the El at Delphi, Fragment 91

[2] Hebrews 13:8

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