This text was reviewed by Fr. Novak, and was based off a live transcription that I did.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
Dear faithful, thank you for joining us as we bring back the True Mass to this ship for the first time in almost 60 years.
You can observe here this flag which drapes the pulpit. While being a symbol for our country it is also a symbol of our Faith. The white stands for purity, the red, for sacrifice, and the blue, for Our Lady, who, above all creatures on earth, can teach us about the first two – purity and sacrifice.
It was built in New York City and then instead of being turned into scrap it was saved. Most of the donations came from school children who donated their nickels and dimes.
This was a great battleship. It was a sign of hope after the tragedy of Pearl Harbor. It’s 3 football fields long, with 12 inch plated steel. It had some of the first 16-inch projectiles which had a range of 21 or 22 miles. It sailed at 31 miles an hour. It had a crew of 2300.
I celebrate today a Requiem Mass for the war dead of WWII, 10,000 from North Carolina alone, 17 from this ship.
This ship’s duty was to defend the aircraft carrier. It surrounded the carrier, in a convoy, with destroyers, and protected it. Yet as important as this mission was and as powerful as this ship was, nothing was ever as important or as powerful as what happened when Our Lord came down during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
As much food, as much meat, sometimes pumpkin pie, sometimes ice cream – as was served on this boat, no food was as important or nourishing as Our Lord’s Body which came to them in the Mass.
We too are sailors, though by our Catholic baptism we are different types of sailors. We are on a ship also. If you are in the state of grace you are in the Barque of Peter, the ship of the Holy Roman Catholic Faith. The first great cathedrals were built with high gothic arches, reminiscent of the forests from which the barbarians came after their conversion. The arches that form these cathedrals can also be understood as upside down ships. Take this ship and turn it upside down and you have a church.
There are other symbols around us. For example, the anchor is the virtue of hope.
This Barque of Peter without an anchor of hope is hopeless. If you are in this Barque, you must have hope.
You must have faith. Look high – look at the high stacks – 85 feet into the air. A mast – showing its great power – it is a symbol of faith – the ship is built around the cross, so to speak. You must have faith. Faith rises high through this mast.
And we have to think of this mast - this cross as it plunges deep into this teak wood deck. Like any wood, it is a symbol of the cross. For the years it was in battle, there was only one torpedo it could not fend off. There was a 32 x 18 foot gash in its side, so it took a beating and went back to defending the mother ship.
Some days we think of the “mother ship” of Mother Church taking a beating, but sailing on. Because the Church is Our Lord Jesus Christ, who being infinite, lives forever, so this ship, the Barque of Peter, sails into Eternity.
During war, these decks would have been strewn with blood and oil. Ten died on these decks, seventeen all total doing their duty. In the gift shop at the vistors’ center you can find pieces of the original teak deck – this one has a hole in it – this one is not besotted by oil, but rather, with a hole in it, reminds me of the piercings in Our Lord’s hands.
We are on the USS Roman Catholic, we might say. We must keep in front of our minds: Faith, Hope, and Charity. A ship represents for us charity.
And why is charity so important? Because if these sailors were without coordination, if there was bitterness or a lack of desire to cooperate, nothing would be done!
No one man can run this ship or these guns or swab these decks. What made it great was her crew had to cooperate as one to achieve its mission. So too must all on the Barque of Peter do the same – cooperate and keep charity with each other.
Because Our Lord has already won this battle, won this great victory over sin, the victory is also ours, unless we throw ourselves overboard. And if we fight, if we fight within the Mystical Body, we might very well throw ourselves off the ship.
It is also interesting for us to know that this altar is facing east, properly, because Jesus Christ, who looks upon you, as he faced the city of Jerusalem on the cross of Mt Calvary. On the flipside of that crucifix on the altar is the monogram IHS. The protestants don’t want a body on their cross, but for us, the body is on the cross, because we are still on the cross. We are still on the cross as the Mystical Body.
All great men who fight for this country have a saying, that they fight for God, family, and country. We too should fight for God, family, country.
God. We have been divinized by His grace, redeemed through His Blood, but we must still suffer – we must fill up the merits “lacking“ to the body of Christ says St. Paul, which is the Church. We are “other Christs,” says St. Augustine. But we are not different Christs: we are the one Christ – He is living in us. He prays, He acts, He is zealous, He is humble. He sacrifices. In this way God manifests Himself in us. The God who lives. And we are members of His Mystical Body if we are in the Barque of Peter.
This is the God we serve, who is already victorious, we are incorporated with Him through grace, and if we persevere, will sail into the safe harbor.
Family. A family beyond strictly any blood family. A supernatural family – all Catholics, past, present, future. We look to join those confirmed by grace in Heaven – the angels and the saints. We want to become fellow citizens with this family in heaven forever.
Country. These shores, the bricks and bones, a continent discovered by Columbus, a Catholic. Settled and evangelized by Jesuits, and Franciscans who gave their lives for this land. But our calling is to give our lives to gain the heavenly country – the safe harbor for us someday. God, Family, Country. We should be citizens of that heavenly country.
I do not know where the streaks of blood stain this deck, and where men might have died. In the same way, I do not know where the torrents of blood come from amongst you here, but if they come from Our Lord’s side they must come from us as well. Our motive and motivation must come from Our Lord Jesus Christ – we must do this in our time and our space. (Ship’s horn blows.) And in that time and space, sounds like that, at this time of day, might remind us to say the Angelus. As the Incarnation is recalled in the Angelus, so we too recall His Incarnation in our lives.
You can read about this crane on the fantail. Its purpose was to pluck up this plane from the water. These were the planes looking for the enemy before the age of radar. One time a Kingfisher did not return safely – a man was lost. But his partner, Ordnance Officer Burns, survived the accident, the war, and went on to field test more planes. A year after the war he died. Ordnance Officer Burns, whose story you can read about on the fantail, wanted to become a priest one day. He never became a priest. Our Lord took him. To the young men who are on this ship, who does Our Lord have in mind to staff his ship? It may be you. It may be you. You may be called to the priesthood. Pray that God may give you the grace of such a blessing and special calling.
Finally, because we are on a ship, we know the story of the nets – we draw, no matter when, we draw people into the Barque of Peter, even when things are at their worst. As huge waves would batter this ship at sea, the captain had to be unafraid. So too, Our Lord was unafraid, indeed He slept when things were rough. So too today things are rough. The ship may seem to rock and roll as paganized man and society rolls the ship around.
But He is aware of it. He will keep us safe, so remember and keep your hope and anchor firmly planted. He will bring us into the harbor, where He will say to us, Well done, good and faithful sailor-servant - welcome now into my rest.
And speaking of good and faithful servants, I would like to thank Monique Baker, Kim Simcox, Mary Ames Sherett, Steve Lewis, and Captain David Scheu.
We also give thanks to Our Blessed Lady, Star of the Sea, who is the North Star – all sailors know that the North Star, forever fixed, leads the way when one is lost, so too Our Lady leads us to Heaven.
And so let us give thanks to Our Lord, who gave us the Barque of Peter, predestined and blessed us, and put us into it. And let us pray that we stay on it.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.