June 19, 2022
How can we offer God the worship that He deserves? What does this “old-fashioned” word piety really mean? How does it relate to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
This is the third in a series of nine homilies on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The following are the links to all the homilies in this series:
1st – The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
2nd – The Gift of Fear of the Lord
3rd – The Gift of Piety
4th – The Gift of Fortitude
5th – The Gift of Understanding
6th – The Gift of Counsel
7th – The Gift of Knowledge
8th – The Gift of Wisdom
9th – Searching for Wisdom
- Thomas Aquinas sees piety as a part of the virtue of justice and justice is rendering another person what is due to them, what they deserve.
- We’re living in a society which is kind of anti-piety and it creates a lot of division and a lot of disorders in our country.
- The special inspiration of this gift of piety helps us to show God the honor and devotion that He deserves as our Father.
- This gift of piety helps us to realize that God the Father is the one worthy of all glory, honor and adoration – all worship.
- The only thing we have which is worthy of, is God Himself and He has given Himself to us present in the Holy Eucharist.
The human virtue of piety, which is not just limited to Christians, is about proper love and respect for family, for our country, for our friends, our colleagues, and associates.
But it’s only the Holy Spirit who can reveal to us the gift that you have been given, the eternal privilege of being chosen to be a son or daughter of the Lord. That’s the gift of piety, which wants us to honor, respect, hallow His name, to adore Him, to praise Him, and give Him thanks. During Mass, listen to the words the priest says, “Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. All glory and honor is Yours, Almighty Father.
“Do this in remembrance of Me.” We hear these words in the reading of St. Paul, on this feast of Corpus Christi. And they are part of a response to a question that humanity has been asking for much of its history. That is, who is God? And what is my relationship to God? And how should I treat God? What is worthy of being a being offered to God? There’s a psalm, a verse from Psalms, which is often read on this feast day, Psalm 116, which says, “How can I make a return to the Lord, for all the good that he has done for me?” How can I make a return to the Lord? And we’ve been considering these past weeks, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and how they shed light on our relationship, our life and how the Holy Spirit is inspiring and helping us. Last week we’re looking at the gift of fear of the Lord, which helps us to turn away from what is what is evil. So, this week, on this feast of Corpus Christi, we’re looking at the gift of piety, the gift of piety. So, what is piety? Because that’s a word that sounds kind of old fashioned and sounds kind of negative. In our society today, it often seems like it refers to a devotion which is superficial and even, hypocritical, and farcical or maybe an exaggerated sweetness or emotionalism. So, and that’s one of the difficulties in our society, it’s one of the signs, I think, to our society is that we really don’t know what piety is. And so, let’s consider for a moment, what piety is. And to understand that, we have to distinguish two things. Before we look at the gift of piety of the Holy Spirit. Let’s consider what the human virtue of piety is. So, first of all, a human virtue of piety. And what was the traditional understanding of this virtue of piety? St. Thomas Aquinas sees it as part of the virtue of justice, piety is part of the virtue of justice. And justice is rendering another person, what is due to them, what they deserve. And so, he says that man, we have a special debt to some people, because of specially of two reasons, either because of their excellence, like it’s a very good person, a very holy person who has done something very worthwhile, or because of the benefits that we’ve received from that person. And so. there’s a special debt of gratitude and justice towards these persons. And that’s what the virtue of piety concerns, a special debt to these persons. And he says, of course, God as our Creator, has the first place. But in second place, he says, it’s our parents. And it’s very fitting today on this Father’s Day, that those who have been the human source of our life, and have been caring for us, helping guide us and raise us and teach us and help us develop. So, the virtue of piety is, first of all, the debt we have to our parents. And also, he says, to our country. So, you could think about our father and our fatherland. And so, it’s a virtue of justice towards those that we have a special debt to, of justice, because they have given us birth and nourishment. And so, they have worked and sacrificed for us to different degrees. Nobody’s parents are perfect, and our country is not perfect either. But we’re recognizing that the true good that we have received, we received from them. And so that creates a special bond of our charity towards them. And so, this is not just our parents and our country, but he says that it extends to our relatives, to all those that we have a family relationship with, including our ancestors, to pray for our ancestors. And for our country, it involves all those who have sacrificed to give us the country that we have, for the good of the country that we have, and so, it’s a patriotic, a true patriotic attitude. And we have a special bond to all the other citizens, all the other members of our country. And so, this piety is this virtue, that helps us to acknowledge our debt to those persons that we have this special relationship with, so that we honor and respect legitimate authority of the parents. And then those also have similar roles, like teachers, or coaches or others, spiritual fathers. And also, we show gratitude and appreciation for those who have helped us, including friends and benefactors, coworkers. And so how much that would help our country because we’re living in a society which is kind of anti-piety and so, it creates a lot of division, and a lot of disorders in our country. So, this virtue of piety, which is very helpful, is very linked to the fourth commandment, to honor our father and mother. And so that relates also to the rest of our family, and to legitimate authorities. So, this virtue of piety is about proper love and respect for family, for our country, for our friends, our colleagues and associates. So that’s the virtue of piety, the human virtue of piety, which is not just limited to Christians. But what is the gift then of piety, the gift that comes from the Holy Spirit. So, remember that, as we’ve been discussing, these past couple weeks, the gifts help us to be especially responsive to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. But what is the special inspiration of this gift of piety? It’s to recognize that God is not just our Creator, but He has chosen us, as Paul says, “Children in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit,” so that God is also and above all, our Father. And so, we have a relationship, a filial relationship, a relationship of sons and daughters to the Father, St. Paul says, “You have received the Spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry out, Abba, Father.” And so, this helps us to realize the incredible gift and honor and dignity that you have, being chosen by the Father, to be His beloved son, or daughter. And so, that’s a revelation of who you are. And what is your relationship to God the Father? Truly, our Father, and that’s something new in Christianity, because only Jesus the son, can give us that relationship, that opportunity to be a member of the family of God. And so, this gift of the Holy Spirit helps us to see God again, not just as a creator, but as truly your Father. That’s something that even the angels, as holy and brilliant and exalted as the angels are, they can’t call God their father. God is not their father. He has chosen us to be His children. And it’s His joy that chose you, chose you personally, and created you to be His child. And so, this gift of piety helps us to show God the honor and devotion that He deserves as our Father and following the example of Jesus and it’s so striking. Again, no one is stronger, no one is more intelligent, no one is more independent of false influences than Jesus. And yet, this man who is so powerful, and so wise and so knowledgeable, rejoices over and over again, to speak of His Father, even to say that He doesn’t do anything except what He sees His Father do. And He doesn’t say anything except that His Father has revealed to Him, that Jesus exalts and rejoices. And we can even say He glories in the fact that He is the Son of the Father. And He doesn’t see His relationship with His Father as something that is oppressing Him. On the contrary, it’s a source of joy and fulfillment and liberation for Him. And so, He reveals to us what is a true relationship with our Father, because no human authority, no human father is perfect. And so, it’s only Jesus, and by the gift of His Holy Spirit, who can reveal to us what it really means to say that God is our Father. I mean, a very good human father is a great help, and so if we have a good human father, that’s very helpful. If our father hasn’t been so loving, that makes it harder. But it’s only the Holy Spirit who can reveal to us the gift that you have been given the eternal privilege of being chosen to be a member, to be a son or daughter of the Lord. And that’s why we pray, and we’ll pray today in this Mass, the prayer that Jesus taught us. It starts out, “Our Father,… Hallowed be Thy name.” And that’s the gift of piety, which wants us to honor, respect, to Hallow His name, to adore Him, to praise Him, and give Him thanks. And so, if God is our Father, then that also gives me a new relationship with other persons. I have the blood relationship with the members of my family, I’m a co citizen, with other members of our country. But with all the other sons and daughters of God, then they become my brothers and sisters, truly my brothers and sisters, in the deepest reality, they are my brothers and sisters. And so, this gift of piety also creates not just a new relationship with God, but it creates a new relationship, and helps me to recognize the relationship. That is the gift of piety doesn’t create the relationship, but it helps me to realize and respect and live the relationship with also, not just with God, my Father, but with all my brothers and sisters. So, loving them out of reverence for Him. And first of all, for the saints. That is we have a relationship, special relationship with the saints who, because they are our brothers and sisters, but also in particular with my brothers and sisters, who are in need, in a special need. And so, we’re celebrating, we’re reflecting on this today on this feast of Corpus Christi. And this feast which we have the gospel of God, through Jesus feeding His children. And so that’s God the Father through Jesus taking care of his children. And so, we come back to this question, How shall I make return to the Lord, for all the good that he has done for me? How can I offer the worship, the thanksgiving, the praise that God deserves? What is worthy of God the Father and how can I a sinner? How can I offer something that is worthy of My Divine Father? And that leads us back to this Mass that we’re celebrating today on the feast of Corpus Christi. And a little while later, the priest will raise up the Body and Blood of Jesus and then say, “through Him,” that is through Jesus, “with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all glory and honor is yours, Almighty Father,” all glory and honor is Yours. Sin makes me want to draw the glory to myself, or to give glory and honor to human idols to put human creatures in a place of God. But this gift of piety helps me to realize that God, the Father is the one worthy of all glory and honor and adoration, all worship. And so, with Jesus, in the Holy Spirit, to give glory and honor to Him. So, in a sense, it’s kind of like breaking free from gravity, like gravity, which holds us down. And there’s all these sin and selfishness that holds us down spiritually. And this act of adoration is like breaking free from this weight that’s holding us down, so that we can fly, our spirits can fly to the Father, putting Him first. And when we put Him first, everything else can be put in its proper place. Everything else, all the disorders can begin to be ordered again. And when I do that, I often think of the prayer that Jesus taught us, that traditional prayer was already traditional, but He taught to St.Faustina, “Eternal Father, we offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.” So that’s what’s happening in that moment, after the consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, then the priest united with all the faithful is offering to the Eternal Father, the True Father, The Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of His Son. What do we have, which is worthy of God the Father, which is worthy of God? The only thing we have which is worthy of God is God Himself. And He has given Himself to us, so that we can offer He, Jesus true God and true man, to the Father, His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, all present in the Holy Eucharist. And while we do it in atonement for our sins, and the sins of the whole world, for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world. So, we’re invoking also mercy for ourselves and all of God’s children, join down the mercy that He wants to give. And so, it’s an act of adoration and thanksgiving to God, but also an act of what is most necessary for, not just for ourselves, but for all our brothers and sisters. Our greatest need is the need for God’s infinite mercy. And so, all that is present in this great mystery of the Mass. That Psalm said, “How shall I render to the Lord, what shall I give to the Lord for the good that He has done to me” and it goes on to say, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints, of His faithful ones, and especially of His own Son,” and then it says, “I will lift up the chalice of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord,” which we will do in this Mass, lifting up the chalice of salvation, calling upon the name of the Lord. And then it says, “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” That’s what the word Eucharist means, thanksgiving, “the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call on the name of the Lord. Do this in remembrance of me.” So, on this Father’s Day, when we pray for our earthly fathers, with the virtue of piety, it’s the virtue of piety. That’s what the core of Father’s Day is, it’s the virtue of piety. And then the gift of piety helps us to recognize God our Father, and to offer Him what is due Him, through Him. Just listen to those words again so that we can prepare for that moment of the Mass, “Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. All glory and honor is Yours, Almighty Father. Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and for those of the whole world.” Amen.