Source And Summit Focuses On First Martyrs Of The Holy Church
Editor’s note – The Message intern Maria Sermersheim participated in the June 30 Source Summit follow-up event at the diocese of Evansville’s Sarto Retreat House. This is her first-person report on the event.
Source Summit hosted its second follow-up event at the Sarto Retreat House on June 30. We focused on the Feast of the First Martyrs of the Holy Church of Rome and welcomed Deacon Luke Hassler, Father Tony Ernst, Father Tyler Tenbarge and Deacon Dave Rice as guests. Approximately 60 attendees spent the afternoon reflecting on bloody and non-bloody martyrdoms, Jesus’ sacrifice and how we can die to ourselves.
Deacon Luke began the afternoon with a compelling question: “Is it possible to be happy and comfortable?” We would be inclined at first to answer yes; but when we observe Jesus, Mary and the saints—those we know to be truly happy—the answer is a definitive “no.” It is through suffering, trial, error and saying yes to God’s will that we find the redemptive qualities in our lives necessary for happiness. Dying to our wills and following God’s leads to true joy.
After a break for frisbee, cards and Confession, Father Ernst spoke about Mass being the sacrifice of Christ. He broke down one of the Eucharistic prayers for us, showing us powerful elements of the Mass we may not have understood before. At each Mass, we enter into that singular event in salvation history, and we stand at the foot of the cross with Mary and John. The priest asks “that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” At that time we offer the sacrifices of our own lives; but as Father Ernst explained, our lives are only acceptable to God “to the extent that [they are] conformed to his.” We can never hope to be good enough on our own, which makes the Mass our greatest prayer – offering our lives with Jesus’.
Father Tenbarge celebrated Mass with us; and in his homily, he repeatedly asked, “What is the point of dying?” He detailed many of the Roman martyrs’ gruesome deaths, such as being hunted as animals and burned as torches to light the paths in Nero’s gardens. And when he asked again, a child attending Mass with his family raised his hand and answered, “Nothing.” He had the right idea; death holds no power over us. Father Tenbarge concluded that if we live with Christ, eternal life waits for us on the other side of death.
We closed with the Way of the Cross with the Eucharist led by Deacon Rice. Selected participants followed in the procession with reliquaries containing relics from Saints Stephen, Maria Goretti, Philomena, Gemma Galgani, Paul of the Cross and Vincent Strambi. The rest of us carried holy cards that touched the stone of Saint Prassede, thus third-class relics, which Father Tyler brought from Rome for us. On that stone, Saint Prassede prepared innumerable Roman martyrs’ bodies for burial in secret catacombs.
It was beautiful to see the youth of the diocese gather again for games, food, relationships and faith. The true nature of the Church, communion in faith, comes alive through events like Source Summit.