Mass with Blessing of St. Francis of Assisi Chapel and dedication of the altar

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Bishop Luers High School

“How lovely in your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!” We prayed these words of Psalm 84 today, words that express our sentiments as we celebrate the blessing of this beautiful new chapel under the title of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patroness of Bishop Luers High School. This lovely chapel becomes a sacred place today, a place of prayer and worship, where the Lord will be adored and praised by the Bishop Luers community. The Blessed Sacrament will be reserved here in the tabernacle making this chapel truly the dwelling place of the Lord.

The most important part of this ceremony, after the Eucharist itself, will be the dedication of the altar. The altar is a sign of Christ. It is the focal point of every Catholic church and chapel. Why is this? Because it is at the altar that we celebrate the memorial of the Lord, the memorial of Christ’s sacrifice. We carry out at the altar Christ’s command: “Do this in memory of me.” By the power of the Holy Spirit and by the words of Christ spoken by the priest, the gifts of bread and wine on the altar become the Body and Blood of Christ.

We heard in our first reading about Joshua in the Old Testament building an altar to the Lord on Mount Ebal. On the altar, they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. But on this altar, the offering will infinitely surpass those offerings of old. Here, the offering will be Jesus Christ. His sacrifice on the cross will be made present in mystery (sacrament). And we who are the Body of Christ, the Church, will unite ourselves to His offering. Through the Eucharist, we are united with Our Lord’s great sacrifice of love. Referring to His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus said to the crowd in today’s Gospel: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” That’s what Jesus did when He was lifted up on the cross. In mystery and truth, the Lord draws us to Himself in every Mass as His sacrifice on the cross is made present.

Then in Holy Communion, we are able to receive the fruits of Jesus’ sacrifice – grace and life, union with Jesus and with one another. This is the miracle of the Eucharist. As Saint Paul wrote with amazement: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one Body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” This is why we can say that the Eucharist makes the Church and builds the Church. It is the sacrament that makes us one Body in Christ. This community of disciples of Jesus at Bishop Luers High School, like every community of disciples in the Catholic Church, is united with Christ and with one another through the Eucharist, the sacrament that makes us one Body in Christ.

In this ceremony, I will dedicate the altar. Another word for dedication is consecration. We were all dedicated to God, consecrated to Him, in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. In those sacraments, we were anointed with the sacred chrism, the sign of our consecration to God. Priests and bishops were anointed with the holy chrism at their ordinations, again, a sign of dedication and consecration to God. The chrism is used in these sacraments of consecration of persons. But today, this same holy chrism is used for the dedication of a thing, not a person. I will anoint the altar with the oil of chrism. Why? Because this altar will be dedicated to God. I