The legacy of the Diocese of Nashville is what St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows represents, said Bishop J. Mark Spalding, as he preached during the parish’s 175th anniversary Mass, Tuesday, Nov. 1.
“For 175 years, this church has shown our rich history be it priests, religious or bishops gathering here ordaining, confirming and sending forth,” Bishop Spalding said. “As we gather here, especially thinking about it being the Feast of All Saints, remembering we’re in communion with the saints. The saints always are with us, whenever we celebrate Mass, in a powerful way.
“They’re interceding for us right now,” he said, “whether you’re standing on top of the world, they’re interceding, saying ‘Be grateful to God, count your blessings,’ or whether you’re deep in the dark valley, the saints are praying for us right now, saying, ‘Know that God is with you and will get you through this moment and take you to a better place in Christ Jesus.’”
The communion of saints is filled with many, he said, from those of the early Church to those who were parishioners of St. Mary over the last 175 years.
“As we gather here tonight, we do remember, and we thank God. We thank you Lord for 175 years in this wonderful, beautiful church, and most especially for the wonderful and beautiful people who came here and continue to come here and give thanks to God for the gift of his Son and the Holy Spirit,” Bishop Spalding continued. “We must now keep up the tradition. We must now sustain the faith. We must now be mindful of the legacy we see, and we pass on.”
That starts by continuing to invite family and friends to the table of the Lord, he said.
“Pray that God gives you and me the courage to constantly place the faith before others. Because of those who have gone before us and the sacrifices they’ve made, we can gather here,” Bishop Spalding said. “As they lived, they loved, they cared, they endured, they passed on, … we now say, we must endure, overcome and bring the good news of Jesus Christ to others.
“You want to celebrate this wonderful celebration worthily? Then make sure the next 25 years that leads up to the 200th are prosperous years in the Lord,” he said. “Make a commitment … to work hard that the good news of Jesus Christ is proclaimed throughout this diocese, that others can come and fill this church and see the beauty of the Mass, the wonder of the sacraments, the power, nourishment and the encouragement that the word of God gives us as well.”
But simply, remember to give the message of love.
“Parents and grandparents, never forget this. Tell your children, your grandchildren you love them. Tell them you think the world of them and you want the best for them,” he instructed. “In this world that has so much darkness and trial and trouble, they need to hear, ‘I love you.’ Don’t be afraid to say it.”
By starting with that proclamation of love and then giving them the gift of faith, a seed is planted, Bishop Spalding said.
“It’s your responsibility to sow the seed. God will take care of the growth,” Bishop Spalding said. “Our ancestors of the faith sowed the seed, and on this Feast of All Saints, we remember them all. On this great celebration of 175 years, we remember those most especially in this city of Nashville, in the whole Diocese of Nashville, and we remember that enduring faith that overcame and passed on to us.
“Almighty God, we give you thanks, through the intercession of St. Mary, for all you have given us in our lives,” Bishop Spalding concluded. “Strengthen us so that we may be evangelists in the world that sows the seed of the good news of Jesus Christ, so others can join us here to celebrate the gift that God loves us so much that he gave us his Son, who is now gifted to us once again in this place of worship.
“Bless these 175 years,” he said. “Let’s continue to celebrate well and share our faith.”