Jan. 29, 2016

Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., bishop of Youngstown, Ohio, celebrates the St. Thomas Aquinas Mass on Jan. 28.

Members of the Catholic University community were encouraged to take solace in the depths of God's love on Jan. 28, during the University's annual Mass on the patronal feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, held in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.The Mass, which is held annually on or around the feast of University patron St. Thomas Aquinas, was celebrated by Most Rev. George V. Murry, S.J., bishop of Youngstown, Ohio; chairman of the NCEA Board of Directors; and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Catholic Education. Very Rev. John Langlois, O.P., president, and Rev. Thomas Petri, O.P., vice president, of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies, served as principal concelebrants.Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P., editor-in-chief of Magnificat and a Catholic University alumnus, served as homilist. The Dominican House of Studies Schola and students from Catholic University served as the choir. In his homily, Father Cameron spoke of how St. Thomas Aquinas has influenced his life, including his decision to join the Dominican order. Father Cameron also spoke of how St. Thomas Aquinas is a good example for young people, who often suffer from loneliness or a lack of purpose in life.

Students pray during the Mass, which was held in honor of Catholic Schools Week.

"Saint Thomas Aquinas, if he were here among us, would have such tremendous empathy for the young," Father Cameron said. Though the saint was "misunderstood as a young person," overweight, introverted, mocked, and bullied, he also had "this amazing conviction about God's love."

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Father Cameron's homily

CatholicTV broadcast of the Mass

Photo gallery

In his commentary on the Gospel of John, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: "At the present time we cannot know how great God's love for us is: This is because the good things that God will give us exceed our longings and desires, and so cannot be found in our heart."In order to escape being broken down by the hardships of life, Father Cameron advised students to pursue their deepest longings and desires - especially the longing for infinite love, which can only be satisfied by God. "The trouble is that when happiness doesn't happen according to our plan, and we begin to feel the void, the abysmalness of life, we very often side step and compromise our desire in favor of something that ultimately cannot satisfy," Father Cameron said.

He also spoke of the importance of the Eucharist as a "perfect joining" in friendship between God and man. It is while receiving the grace of the sacrament that Catholics can best be prepared to serve. "So you, who have been made a friend of Jesus Christ ... you for whom every expression of God's love for you is an understatement ... you, the light of the world, go out and be a friend to others," he said.

"Live your life as a risk. Someone out there needs you. Someone close is on the verge of despair and maybe even of death. So come to Jesus, receive your Friend in Holy Communion, and then go out and do what he does: Give to others your very self." Cosponsored by CUA, the Dominican House of Studies, and the National Catholic Educational Association, the Mass was held in celebration of National Catholic Schools Week, which will be celebrated Sunday, Jan. 31, through Saturday, Feb. 6. The Mass was broadcast live on EWTN and CatholicTV. The February edition of Magnificat was distributed after the Mass free of charge to all in attendance.At the end of Mass, Bishop Murry thanked the congregation and spoke about the importance of Catholic education. "Our schools have made significant contributions to the growth in faith across the United States, an accomplishment of which we may well be proud," he said. "As we celebrate National Catholic Schools Week, I pray the Lord will bless your school communities with enthusiasm for the Gospel, a love of learning, and a desire to be of service to others."