Baccalaureate Mass

University of Dallas


May 14, 1978

It is always Pentecost. It is always Mothers' Day. This baccalaureate is once only, and yet there is something of it which shall always endure.

We belong to the Church of Always. On the first Christian Pentecost, cowering men were overpowered by the Holy Spirit. They went tumbling into the streets of Jerusalem and then with urgency set out along the road of the known world. The church had been born and they were good witnesses to the fact; everywhere they established assemblies -- churches of believers. Their work was tied to no one place, no civilization, no language, no culture, no philosophy. They were witnessed to a Catholic truth. They founded the Church of Always.

Of the Church, we are members. In thought patterns, dress codes, moral understandings, customs, cultural observances, we are very different from the men who came rushing from the Cenacle. Yet we are one with them in a way we are afraid to contemplate.

The Church is Our Mother. It is fitting -that we so speak of her by analogy with our human mothers. Motherhood, after all, is one of the most mysterious of human facts. From our mothers we have life, itself a mystery; our mothers shape our personalities; they nurture us by their teaching; the values which they impart can endure through a lifetime. If we express gratitude to them today in a formal way, we are mindful that everyday we live is theirs. We are always of their life.

So it is with the Church. Our supernatural life, the faith that identifies us; the basic code by which we live is from the Church. Born at Pentecost, enduring through ages, ceaseless despite epochal changes, she is an unfailing Mother, the Church of Always.

Mother Church is inseparable from Pentecost. For the Church is more than external forms, liturgical styles, ecclesiastical manners, a code of laws, a body of doctrine, or a hierarchy. She is all of these things. But she is more. The Church is an assembly of believers, yolked together by an inner life which, through the Church's ministry, is given to us and nourished. And what is that inner life? It is Almighty God -- God the Holy Spirit -- dwelling within us. God himself living in our souls, possessing our hearts and minds.

Pentecost means that we live in intimate union with him. We live! This is life, a life greater than that which we have from our mothers, a life which we can hardly describe. It is too intimate, too penetrating; most of us are too fearful of facing up to its consequences and too unwilling to inquire into its meaning. But there is no act of true faith or hope or love or repentance or generosity or amiability that is not inspired by the Holy Spirit. Everywhere, in every heart that enjoys His grace, that is, His presence, He works, He stimulates, He arouses, and He inspires. It is His presence which gives us fecundity, freshness, a love of truth, humility, docility. We are the dwelling place of the Spirit. It is always Pentecost.

This afternoon, the University of Dallas claims you for itself. To some extent, it too has given you life, a style, a way of thinking, a comportment, all of which shall ever be part of you. The University has become your alma mater, your "nourishing" or "bountiful" Mother. The life that you have known here through four years will always be a part of you. Again, therefore, the maternal analogy is employed. Perhaps it would be better to say that you will always be a part of this institution.

What you have been, what you will be, comes from others; God, your parents, your University. St. Paul has it that we have different gifts but the same Spirit, different ministries but the same Lord, different works by the same God who accomplishes them in everyone. How your gifts will be used, what ministries you shall perform, what works you shall do, no one can tell. In the mystery of your life, may you often be conscious of the unfolding Pentecost within you; loyal to the parental values you have acquired; and, a pride to this university. The best that you are today comes from others. May you be responsive to it -- always.

Sermons and Lectures by Damian Fandal, O.P.

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