Here is the sermon of His Excellency Most Rev. Robert Finn, Bishop of Kansas City for the consecration of Old St. Patrick and a Pontifical Mass.
It is slightly edited, and with my emphases and comments.
Sermon for the Consecration of Old St. Patrick Church
October 25, 2008
Most Reverend Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph
Then came a loud voice from the heavenly throne, “Behold the dwelling place of God with men. … Behold, I make all things new.”
Dear friends, I greet you with great joy on this day of Solemn Consecration. This is the dwelling place of God with men. This is the place where heaven meets earth, where the mystery of salvation touches the human heart. Here, even sadness and death are given flight – so full of hope, so full of grace and light are the truths and supernatural actions that unfold in this place, where God dwells with man. [Indeed! Well said. This is a sacred space wherein people are to have a transforming encounter with mystery. The introit for the Mass is "This place demands reverence… Terribilis est locus iste…" William James calls this sense of mystery, this feeling of holy reverential dread at the fearful, almost terrifying experience, "awe at transcendence". The bishop got it in one. And he starts with this!]
In the Gospel account of the meeting between the Lord Jesus Christ and the tax collector, Zachaeus, we see the power of conversion in the encounter with God. When the human heart receives the Lord, a saving change can transform us. Here in this magnificent church such miracles have been occurring for more than 130 years. Now, again we have set it apart as the House of God. What a happy and historic day this is in our Diocese. [It is "set apart". It is sacred. And within the sacred precinct there is an even more sacred place, leading to a place most sacred of all. Our places of worship should not look like seafood restaurants or municipal airport terminals.]
It was on August 14, 2005, that I had the privilege of being able to announce to our little Latin Mass community the impending arrival of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the establishment of the Oratory of Old St. Patrick, and the beginning of a plan to provide a fitting home for the faithful in this historic church – the oldest Catholic church building in Kansas City. At that meeting in the hall at Our Lady of Sorrows, I told those gathered about this place. I called it “a diamond in the rough,” and acknowledged that the work of restoration “would be demanding and costly.” With enthusiasm and hope they accepted the challenge.
Out of a motive of true love for God and dedication to the Church you have done something great in the history of the Diocese. You have renewed this holy temple in a way that is equal to the sacrifice and commitment of those who first built it, and which may indeed surpass its original beauty. Deo Gratias!
Now, dear friends, what will God accomplish in this place? His love and grace, alive in the Church, will be a source of supernatural aid to many individuals and, we pray, He will kindle something blessed in this neighborhood and throughout the Diocese. [This is very good. This is a spark for the whole diocese!]
I pray that this church will be a center of reverent and obedient worship in spirit and truth for all who come here. Here you will bring your babies to be baptized. Here your sins will be forgiven. Here holy matrimony will be solemnly ratified. All the sacraments will give God glory, perhaps none more than the re-presentation of Calvary at this altar.
Dear friends, may this place also be a home of reconciliation for Catholics who, within the praxis of these venerable rites, still long for a more perfect communion with the Vicar of Christ and me his unworthy servant. I welcome you. Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest Himself seeks you out. [Excellent.] He who came to seek and save the lost looks, searches, to see us. “Make haste and come down, Zachaeus.” And we must humbly invite him to the house of our soul as did the tax collector in whom already the transformation was beginning to take place. [Notice how the theme of "transformation" threads itself through the whole sermon.]
Today, Dear friends, Let salvation come to this house! Let salvation be found here in the ineffable mysteries of which the Church is the one faithful and prudent steward.
There is one more precious intercession I wish to lift today. In collaboration with the Catholic bishops of Missouri, and in anticipation of a significant election, [the election…] I ask all to pray; to pray and sacrifice, so that our country will be renewed in the love of human life, and that we may be spared the continuing spiral and decline of our moral sense. Let us take advantage of the singular grace of this Solemn Consecration to beg the Merciful God; to implore Mary the Lady of the Rosary, St. Patrick and St. Bridget, St. Joseph and all our heavenly patrons, to keep our country from evil and sustain on a new path of life. [This was a point I made to people during Forty Hours Prayer at Mater Ecclesiae in New Jersey a few days ago. The point of Forty Hours was to beg God to avert disaster and to protect us in time of need. The bishop ties this consecration of this church together with this theme of transformation for the diocese and now change of hearts and minds for the country.]
In this month of Angels I ask you to join me in calling upon the Guardian Angels of 47 million babies lost to the crime of abortion in our country, to carry the cry of these Holy Innocents before the throne of Mercy: not to condemn us, but to fortify and inspire us to be the Guardians of life.
On this happy day Lord, let us not forget the responsibility that is forever ours to give back to you the obedience of our faith, to seek holiness with a pure heart, and to spend ourselves in apostolic charity. Let the faith and good will of the many find a new start here. “For this is the dwelling place of God with men.” Let the voice from heaven resound in our joyful and thankful hearts, “Behold, I make all things new.”