This is indeed the house of God and the gate of heaven.
In that first reading from Genesis, Jacob proclaimed how awesome this place is: this is the house of God and the gate of heaven. That's how I feel on walking in here tonight, and maybe you do too. Or maybe the first time you ever came into this beautifully rebuilt mission church. The original mission church here was built by Indians and for Indians. and the reason it was built here in 1797, 28 years after father Serra started the California mission chain, was that the catholic Ohlone native Americans who lived in this area, were tired of walking every Sunday 15 miles for five hours to mission Santa Clara for mass and then walking back again another five hours and 15 miles. They asked for their own church, their own mission, and the Franciscan friars provided it.
What lessons can we learn from these Ohlone Catholics? First, the Ohlone can teach us that the whole nation, they were not atheists, they were better than most Americans today. They believed in God. They believed that they were not God. And when they saw nature, the sun, the moon, the stars, the sea, the earth, the elements, they knew that there had to be a creator, because of this creation. They lived in obedience to nature. They respected the environment, and they knew all this was greater than them. They knew the earth was not created by them, but was a gift to them. And if there was a gift there had to be a giver.
A high school boy I asked for confirmation, why do you believe in God? He said "when I look at nature, I see how everything fits together in a beautiful chain. and there's a design in nature. if there's a design, there has to be a designer". Cardinal Newman said that the earth was never left without a revelation, without signs of God's presence and existed. and the primary revelation, cardinal Newman said, was nature itself. And that is what made the Ohlone so receptive and open to hearing the rest of the story: divine revelation when preached by the Franciscan friars. That's why there were so many baptisms here. In the first 11 years, there were over 3 000 baptisms. I wonder how many pastors can say that after they took over a parish, they made 3000 new members. Cardinal Newman says growth is the only evidence of life, and life there was here. What other things attracted them to come and join the catholic faith. the truth of the gospel of Jesus.
Friendship with God whom they had worshiped behind the veil as Saint Paul says, and now they could know his name, and know what he did for them. and once built, the beauty of this church, the beauty of the artwork, the beauty of the liturgy, the beauty of the sacred music, attracted them, and spoke to their souls. as it all still does to us today, who are the inheritors of the Ohlone, and the Franciscans give to us.
One last thing I think we can learn from the Ohlone and other native American peoples in our country, and that is love for our history and our traditions. In the latter part of the 19th century, the Catholic Church built schools for Native American children. California Pacific, Northwest, Midwest. Their goal of the church was to enable Indian children to get an education. And as they thought at the time, participating in modern society to have jobs and professions, therefore, the teachers made a rule that made sense at the time, but today is highly criticized. The teachers forbade the children to speak their own native language and insisted that only English be spoken. if they spoke their native language, they were punished. as a result. among some tribes the native language almost died out. and today great effort is being spent to recover and preserve these languages and customs.
There's a great lesson in this. the truth is it's not either, or, but both. and it's good to preserve original languages and traditions, and to learn English to survive in the modern world. Appreciating one's tradition helps one to do that. In today's Catholic Church, it's the same. Some people write to me that their parish is too modern, there are too many changes. evangelization, outreach, emphasis on family catechesis, attending mass is a requirement for your children to receive sacraments, efforts to grow parishes and reach out and make converts, no more paper bulletins, but only flock notes, and electronic bulletins. Some people write to me and say why can't they just leave everything the same, it's all too modern here. Other people write to me and say my parish is too traditional, the tabernacle is back in the center, the crucifix is back, the statues are back. Bishop, they're even singing some Latin Gregorian chant.
Today we're consecrating and using the original high altar. I thought some people would say Vatican II said we should get rid of all that. Again, it's not either, or but both, and we need to appreciate our traditions and preserve what is good, yet realize we're in the year 2022 and not 1965 or 1565, and adapt our faith to the modern age. But we need our roots in order to do that. and that is what the native Americans can teach us so well. The Ohlone Indians show us the beauty of preserving our catholic traditions, yet adapting and changing to meet the modern world.
In that reading from Genesis, which I'm sure was read in this church when it was dedicated to 1985 and then originally in the 1790s. It says that Jacob took a rock and made it his pillow and he went to sleep. And when he was asleep, he had a dream and he saw a ladder and angels were going up and down the ladder, from that place up to heaven, and back again. he woke up and made that rock, that was his pillow, the foundation of an altar which he then built, and then he consecrated the altar by pouring sacred oil on it.
What Jacob did is now repeated by the apostles, and catholic bishops their successors. It was repeated by the Franciscans who built and dedicated the original mission San Jose church, and is now being carried on today, and praise of God will be carried on until the end of this world. an altar has been erected, it will be consecrated. An altar on which angels of God will ascend and descend to heaven. It takes up to heaven our prayers, sighs, petitions, worries, needs, and love, and devotion. Those angels will descend from heaven bringing down on this altar and church and community the presence of Christ in the blessed sacrament, the forgiveness of our sins, the cleansing waters of baptism, the anointing of the holy spirit, and confirmation, all these gifts and more. The angels of God will bring us through the hands of the priests. And like Jacob we too acknowledge today, how awesome this place is. This is indeed the house of God and the gate of heaven
在今天讀經ㄧ的創世紀中，雅各伯到了一個驚人的地方：他説：“這是天主的住所，上天之門”。這就是我今晚走進教堂的感覺。也許你也有同感。當你第一次走進這座重修過，精美的傳道教堂時或許有同樣的感動。這座教堂是由印第安人為了他們自己的的需要而建造的。它建於 1797 年，在 Serra 神父開展加州傳教工作 28 年後。因爲居住在這裡的天主教 Ohlone 原住民感到每週日要步行 15 英里5 小時去 Santa Clara 教堂參加彌撒，然後再走五小時15英里回來，實在是太辛苦了，所以他們要求有自己的教堂來傳福音。方濟各會修士就滿全了他們的願望。
從這些 Ohlone 天主教徒身上我們可以學到什麼呢？首先，Ohlone 告訴我們以及整個美國，他們不是無神論者。他們比今天的大多數美國人都好。他們相信天主。他們不認為自己是神。因為他們看到大自然、太陽、月亮、星星、海洋、地球，各種創造物時，他們知道ㄧ定有一個創造者。他們的生活順從自然的規律，尊重環境，知道自然比他們偉大，知道地球不是他們所創造的，而是送給他們的禮物。如果是個禮物，那麽就有一位送禮者。
在一個高中生堅振時，我問他：“你為什麼相信天主？”他回答說：“當我觀察大自然時，我看到這一切都以美麗的鏈條組合在一起。大自然是有設計的。如果有設計，那就有設計師”。樞機主教紐曼說，“地球從來沒有缺乏啟示，也不缺乏天主的存在和祂的行跡”。紐曼說，“最主要的啟示就是大自然本身”。這就是為什麼 Ohlone 原住民樂於接受，並持續聆聽天主的故事：那經由方濟各會修士宣講的神聖啟示。這就是為什麼在最初的 11 年裡，有超過 3 000 人受洗。我不知道有多少神父能說，自從他們接管堂區後，增加了3000名新成員。紐曼又說：“成長是生命的唯一證據”。在那時候，生命就在這裡。有什麼能吸引他們信仰天主呢？ 就是耶穌福音的真理。
聖保祿說：“我們曾隱藏在面紗後面敬拜天主來建立與主的關係。現在，我們知道主的名字，知道主為我們做了什麼”。教堂建成後，這座教堂藝術的美、禮儀的美、聖樂的美吸引了Ohlone 原住民，並與他們的靈魂對話，就像今天與我們對話一樣。我們正是 Ohlone 和方濟各修會禮物的繼承人。
有一件事我們可以向 Ohlone 和其他美洲原住民學習，那就是對歷史傳統的熱愛。在 19 世紀後期，天主教會為美洲原住民兒童在加利福尼亞，太平洋，西北和中西部建學校。教會的目的是為印地安兒童接受教育。當時的認知是，為了幫助他們溶入現代社會，教師們定了一個規則。禁止孩子們說自己的母語，並堅持只說英語。如果說自己的母語，就會受到懲罰。因此，在一些部落中，母語幾乎滅絕了。在當時這是有道理的，但是今天它卻受到了高度的批評。人們現在付出了巨大的努力來恢復和保護這些語言和習俗。
今天，我們祝聖並使用原來的祭壇。可能有些人會說梵二後我們不應該這樣作。讓我再說一次，我們可以兩者兼而有之。我們可以欣賞並保留好的傳統，並意識到我們是在 2022 年而不是 1965 年或 1565 年，讓我們的信仰也適應新時代。為了做到這一點，我們必須了解我們的根。這就是原住民教導我們的。Ohlone 原住民向我們展示了如何保留天主教美麗的傳統，並且同時改變自己以適應現代的世界。
至於《創世記》的那段讀經，我敢說，在1985 年和最初 1790 年奉獻這座教堂時，也都讀了這一段聖經。它提到雅各伯拿了一塊石頭為枕，然後睡著了。他做了一個夢，夢見一個梯子，天使在梯子上上下下，從梯子上到天堂，然後又回來。雅各伯醒來後就將那塊石枕為基石建了一座祭壇，並在祭壇上灑油來祝聖它。
宗徒們和他們的繼任者，都不停的舉行了雅各伯祝聖祭壇的祭獻。當初建造 Mission San Jose 教堂的方濟各會也舉行了這個祭獻，我們今天同樣的舉行祭獻，繼續對天主讚美，直到世界的終結。祭壇已經建豎，它將被奉獻。在這個祭壇，天主的天使在上面升起，將我們的祈禱、嘆息、祈求、憂慮、需要、愛和奉獻帶到天堂。天使也從天而降，將基督的聖禮、我們罪、洗禮水的潔淨、聖神的覆油，和信仰的堅証，這些和更多的禮物都由天使通過司祭的手帶给我們。就像雅各伯一樣，我們今天承認，這是個驚人的地方。這是天主的住所，上天之門