Do Not Forget the Works of the Lord

Do Not Forget the Works of the Lord

Two phone calls from members of my family are etched into my heart. They were spouses and parents whose hearts were breaking. I’m sure you’ve received similar calls: perhaps it was a brother whose wife is divorcing him, or a friend whose child is marrying outside of the Church, a mother whose son is caught up in gang violence, or a young adult who can’t find a job and a place to belong. Family is the place we should be able to find a shelter for our hurting hearts, and sometimes it is family itself that hurts us. 

Our families today are living within a world in social and spiritual crisis. It is no wonder that Pope Francis is insisting today on mercy and tenderness towards families that are broken, those in irregular situations, those who are living in great psychological and emotional frailty, towards couples that have lost a spiritual foundation and thus no longer have a living hope that the covenant of their married love is caught up in divine love. 

Last week I participated at Mass at Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury. Fr. Oscar Pratt began his homily by having us turn to each other and say this phrase from the Responsorial Psalm: “Do not forget the works of the Lord!” I turned to Sr. Joseph and she to me as we reminded each of this great reality of God’s mercy! Throughout the church parents turned toward their children and moms and dads to each other: “Do not forget the works of the Lord!” A thousand different problems probably tugged at the hearts of those at Holy Name that morning for Mass, just as they weight in the hearts of each of you who are reading this article. Your families are stretched and sometimes torn by the decisions and situations and struggles of each of its members and by the struggles of the wider society. Your family and each of you has also experienced the works of God in your life. The Liturgy reminds us: “Do not forget these miracles of the Lord in your life. Do not forget the works of God in your life!” 

Some of us can claim to have received remarkable manifestations of God’s power or mercy in our lives. All of us can claim the promises of God made to us as co-heirs of the Kingdom with his Son. Fr. Pratt continued his homily and called out: Raise your hand if you are excited about your resurrection into eternal life! A few tentative hands went up. Again: Raise your hand if you are amazed by the grace God has given you to love him and the opportunity to share that love with others. A few more hands. 

Fr. Pratt’s homily reminded of a talk I once gave in a juvenile detention center in New Orleans. Sitting in neat rows before me were children between 10 and 17 years old, dressed in drab identical garments identifying them as guilty of some crime or other at such a young age. I called out to the sea of faces that communicated with their eyes that this was the last place they wanted to be: Who here has experienced the presence of God? One or two hands went up. Again: Seriously, who here has felt the nearness of God’s presence at least once in their life. Finally: Oh come on. For heaven’s sakes, THIS is what we were created for, to be in union with the One who created us and who bends over us in our need at every moment of the day and night. Now, once more, who here has experienced the presence of God? Everyone’s hand went up. Those kids and teens left our time together excited about Jesus and his love for them even behind bars. 

It is the experience of the cross which weighs down upon each of us that makes us forgetful at times of the great works of God. 

After Communion, Fr. Pratt sat down and began to sing The Old Rugged Cross (by Rev. George Bennard) in his deep voice. The words of the song struck me in a particular way that morning as he sang what seemed to me at that moment to be a “lullaby” for adults who suffer in this world. His calm voice assured us of the God who works in our life through everything and can use even the struggles and failures in our family as the very place he proves his fidelity:

On a hill far away stood an Old Rugged Cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best 
For a world of lost sinners was slain

So I'll cherish the Old Rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
And I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

To the Old Rugged Cross,
I will ever be true
It's shame and reproach, gladly bear
Then He'll call me some day to my home far away
Where His glory forever I'll share

And I'll cherish the Old Rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
And I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

Yeah, I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

Let the cross be your comfort and the works of the Lord your crown!

By Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP



grace, love, the cross, God's help


Family, Inspiration


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