July 27, 2016
Czestochowa, Poland (CNS)—The head of the U.S. military archdiocese July 25 urged pilgrims on the way to World Youth Day to have "an ideal beyond" themselves and to be people "for others."
"We have come to the Black Madonna, because Mary teaches us to be open to the will of God and that openness puts us squarely on the road to lasting peace," Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio said in a homily during a Mass he celebrated at the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, home of the revered "Black Madonna" icon.
"Thus renewed by these days of pilgrimage, we no longer walk in the shadows, but are enabled to show the mercy we have received," he added.
Archbishop Broglio celebrated Mass for members of the U.S. military heading to Krakow for the July 26-31 World Youth Day gathering.
He opened his homily, delivered in English and French, by recalling the heroism of a Navy chaplain who was serving on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. On the capsized ship, Father Aloysius Schmitt was able to find survivors of the attack below deck and helped lead them to safety, before he perished.
"Why did Father Schmitt stay below to facilitate the survival of others?" Archbishop Broglio said. "He had an ideal beyond himself; he was a person for others. That radical commitment is the basis of our gathering at this important sanctuary today. Jesus Christ loves us to the point of dying on a cross to offer us the promise of eternal life. He calls those who follow him to participate in that same love."
Being in the presence of the Black Madonna, he told the congregation, reminds all that "Mary teaches us to be open to the will of God and that openness puts us squarely on the road to lasting peace. Thus renewed by these days of pilgrimage, we no longer walk in the shadows, but are enabled to show the mercy we have received."
About 300 military pilgrims from various NATO countries attended the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Broglio. Poland's military archdiocese hosted "Military Days in the Diocese" prior to World Youth Day.
In his homily, the archbishop talked about how Mary's life changed when the angel Gabriel announced to the "humble virgin of Nazareth" that God had chosen her to bear the Savior.
"Think about the amazing change to her existence. Think about the changes that came to her plans," Archbishop Broglio said. "What does she tell Joseph? What will Joachim and Ann think? However, she brings none of these concerns to her dialogue with Gabriel."
She simply "states the obvious, that she is a virgin and then the words that have become a model of fidelity forever after: 'Be it done to me according to thy word,'" the archbishop noted. "She makes no conditions, but opens herself completely to the will of God. Her fiat is the prayer of the faithful person in the face of the divine will."
Mary knew how "to open herself to God's action, without trying to control, to dominate or to busy herself about many details," he said.
"She teaches us how to experience true serenity and inner peace. It is in being a man or woman of joyful expectation: one who listens more than speaks, one who is aware and lives the truth that 'nothing is impossible for God,'" Archbishop Broglio said. "If God gives us little, it means that we have hoped for little. It is, in fact, impossible to nourish someone who is not hungry."
He acknowledged that "it is a challenge to listen in our contemporary world. Silence is often absent."
"Our lives are filled with instantaneous communication: the beeps of phones, computers and other devices, the blare of the television or piped music. It is almost as if we abhor silence. Yet it is so essential in order for us to hear the voice of God."
He prayed that the days ahead in Krakow would be "a time of listening. We will have many opportunities to hear the word of God and to deepen our understanding of it."
Returning to Father Schmitt, he said the priest's heroism is still remembered, because "he taught the value of life, a spirit of self-sacrifice and an attentiveness to how he might serve others. Those are values that put us squarely on the road to peace."
Quoting Pope Francis, he said: "Today, Mary makes it possible for us to grasp the meaning of events which affect us personally, events which also affect our families, our countries and the entire world. Where philosophical reason and political negotiation cannot arrive, there the power of faith, which brings the grace of Christ's Gospel, can arrive, opening ever new pathways to reason and to negotiation.'"
Archbishop Broglio urged Massgoers to imitate Mary and "walk that road of peace."
"Even when we are forced into combat, we must continue to cultivate that longing for a world where people engage in dialogue, where hate gives way to love, and where difference is no longer a threat to a communion of life," he said.
"Our respect for the inestimable value of human life from the womb to the tomb," he added, "must keep us squarely on the road to lasting peace."