lundi, juin 26, 2006

for the
3rd Sunday
Man has the inclination to be the judge of his brothers and to impose upon them his own point of view. Let us be honest, we all have this tendency, don’t we? Let us put ourselves for one moment in Mister Know-it-all’s shoes, which could be anyone of us. I said Mister, but it could be a Miss or Mrs. too. In this matter I do believe in sex equality.

" It is well known that I know everything better than everybody else, so I know what is good and what is evil for everybody. And since I have sufficient knowledge, I can pass judgment on my neighbor who is necessarily less knowledgeable than me; or, if by chance he is more knowledgeable than me, then he is certainly much too proud, which makes him too blind to see the truth, which I, of course, know so much better than he. Because of me, of course, I am humble and I cannot be wrong. "

Well, Mister or Mrs. Know-it-all – again, who could be anyone of us – is not a child of Adam and Eve for nothing. Their sin, which we call original sin, is not only theirs. It is ours too. You can give the excuse that it was not your fault and that you have nothing to do with it, but the Church still reminds you that this sin is truly yours. You didn’t commit it personally, but you were born with it and all its consequences. One effect of original sin is the corruption of the good of nature. We acknowledge with Saint Thomas Aquinas the four wounds of nature which are ignorance, malice, weakness and concupiscence. Let us understand well that we are all affected by these wounds. Every human person comes into this world in such a state, except Our Lady who was preserved by a unique privilege.

We know this, I would say on a theoretical level but for some strange reason and as if by magic, we seem to forget this on a practical level, at least when ourselves are concerned. It is not difficult to notice how ignorant or malicious our neighbor is, but when it comes to looking at ourselves, our nature becomes reluctant to recognize our own defects.
At first sight, this observation can make us laugh, but in fact it is alarming, because it is simply the opposite of what we are supposed to be. Look at the Pharisees of the Gospel. Jesus does good around Him everywhere He goes. But He doesn’t act according to their social criteria. “ Can you imagine? This man receives sinners and eats with them! What a disgrace! ” And they murmur with a vengeance.

We may have good reasons to be indignant about their behavior, but don’t forget one thing. We are no different than them. And it is quiet a paradox. We claim that we are Christian, and traditionalist Catholic on the top of that; we assert that we have nothing to do more precious than doing God’s will; we militate in favor of the social reign of Jesus Christ in the society; we are supposed to be disciples and friends of Jesus, and yet we act like His enemies. Like them, we are indignant when our neighbor does good. And if he does something evil, it is immediately an outcry and we are so happy to be the one who throw at him the first stone.

But what kind of Christians are we? Why don’t we rejoice with Our Lord when we see good around us? Why are we so indignant, so hard and so prompt to judge instead of being compassionate and merciful? Are we imitators of the Pharisees or of Our Lord Jesus Christ? As Traditionalist Catholics, are we keepers of the Traditions of Jesus Christ or of the Pharisee’s?

Dear Brethren, it now the time to choose. Let us turn to Our Lady so that She can help us to make the good choice, which is of course, Our Lord Jesus Christ. May She help us to see evil first in ourselves, so that, with the help of grace, we can cure ourselves first of our own sins and defects. It will be a better way to glorify and serve God, definitively better than making ourselves righter of wrongs.

samedi, juin 24, 2006

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Romanesque church of Paray-le-Monial

Sermon for the solemnity of the Sacred Heart

Cathedral Christ the King, Atlanta

Paray-le-Monial is a pretty little town in the South of Burgundy, surrounded by the Saone River and the vineyards which make this place quiet peaceful and pleasant. There, one can enjoy the charms of the provincial life, a life for which France has the secret. We should say that Burgundy, which is famous all over the world for the finest wines, is also an old land rich in tradition, and is considered to be one of the main roots of France and even Europe. Her influence has been profound for many centuries, to such a point that even the King of France could fear her at the time when she was allied to England. Saint Jeanne of Arc would learn this at the expense of her life.

Burgundy is also an old Christian land. A visitor will be amazed by the great number of churches, priories and monasteries that punctuate her soil. Who doesn’t know the name of Cluny which was a thriving spiritual, cultural and even political center during the Middle Ages? Paray-le-Monial is one of the numerous fruits of Cluny.

Around the year one thousand, some monks from Cluny founded a priory there. Restored in the XIX century, this church is a finial of the Romanesque architecture with its octagonal bell tower which symbolizes the eighth day, the Day of the Resurrection. In 1632 a community of the Visitation, Order founded by Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jeanne de Chantal, settled in Paray-le-Monial. 45 years later, a young woman took her religious vows in this community. She is named Marguerite Alacoque and would become famous as Saint Marguerite-Marie. Jesus has chosen her to reveal the mysteries of His Sacred Heart to the world. Paray-le-Monial had to become the city of the Sacred Heart.

It is true that the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus knew a great impulse after the apparitions of Paray-le-Monial, but this devotion had existed previously. I would say it started with Saint John who rested his head on the Heart of Jesus. Later, Saint Catherine of Sienna said that the disciple, hearing the beating of this Heart, experimented the depth of love by which Jesus saves the humanity. The same Saint John, the only one faithful Apostle during the agony of Our Lord, saw the Heart of Jesus pierced by the soldier’s spear, “ and immediately there came out blood and water.” Saint Augustine has these wonderful words to explain this verse. The side of Jesus has been opened. “ Actually, the door of the life had to be opened at the place where the Sacraments of the Church rose. Without the Sacraments, it is impossible to get the life, which is the only one veritable. This blood has been shed for the remission of sins; this water is a salutary liquid because it is used as a bath and a beverage.”

And then Saint Augustine shows how this event was prefigured a long time ago. “God had announced this event when He gave to Noah the order to open a door in the side of the ark. By this door, the animals destined to not die had to enter. These animals prefigured the Church. This is also the reason why the first woman has been draw from the side of Adam while he was sleeping. This is the reason why she received the name of the life and of mother of the living. The second Adam, Jesus-Christ, after bending his head, fell asleep on the Cross, so that a spouse was given to Him. During His sleep, this spouse came out of His side.” Saint John, faithful Apostle, was witness of the birth of the Church, born from the Heart of Jesus.

Then, during the Middle-Ages, the devotion to the Sacred Heart, was carried mainly by the German and Flemish mystics, and also Saint Catherine of Sienna in Italy. In 1246, Saint Lutgarde had a vision of Jesus who asked for her heart. She answered: “Give to my heart the love of Thy own Heart. May my heart be well protected in Thee, forever under Thy protection.” Let us also mention Saint Mechtilde of Magdeburg and Saint Gertrude who were both presented with revelations of the Sacred Heart.

But that was not enough for Our Lord who is thirsty of love. His Heart had to be more known and more loved. Saint Marguerite-Marie would be the instrument of propagation for a renew of the devotion to the Sacred Heart. By December 27th 1673, Jesus told her: “ My Divine Heart is so heated of love for men of for you especially, that It can no longer restrain in Itself the flames of Its ardent charity. It has to spread them by your means and to show up to men in order to enrich them by Its precious treasure that I reveal to you.
Then, came the great revelation of June 1675, during the Octave of Corpus Christi. that you probably already know: “Behold this Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself to prove to them its love.In return, I receive from the greater number nothing but ingratitude, contempt, irreverence, sacrilege, and coldness in this Sacrament of my love.But what I feel still more is that there are hearts consecrated to me who use me thus.

The message is clear. Jesus loves us and His love has no limit. But He is not loved and He will be less and less loved. After the XVII century will come the century of Lights, which is the prelude of the French Revolution. The Catholic order must be destroyed and Satan launches his troops in the world. For being the Eldest Daughter of the Church, France is at the center of the battlefield. Our Lord gave also a message to Saint Marguerite-Marie for the King Louis XIV. She might inform the King of France, "Eldest son of His Sacred Heart," that the Sacred Heart claims "to reign in his palace, to be painted on his standard, to be engraved on his arms"; and that it will make him "triumphant over all the enemies of Holy Church." Either Louis XIV never received the letter or he refused to reply, we don’t know. It has never been done, and instead of triumphing over the enemies of the Church, France sank into the horrors of the Revolution. Many Catholics, and first the King-Martyr Louis XVI, many priests and religious paid it with their life. Once the temporal order destroyed, it would be more easy to annihilate the spiritual order.

Heaven tried to warn us. Our Blessed Mother visited us many times at Lourdes, Pontmain, La Salette and Fatima where She promised the victory of Her Immaculate Heart, so intimately united to the Sacred heart of Her Son. Yet, the world turns a deaf ear. Today, the Sacred Heart is probably less loved than ever. More than ever, we must do reparation. And the way to make reparation, which has been given to us by Jesus, is the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. Remember, the great revelation took place during the Octave of Corpus Christi. Our Lord said to Saint Marguerite: “ Therefore I ask of you that the Friday after the Octave of the Blessed Sacrament be kept as a special festival in honor of my Heart, to make reparation for the indignities offered to It and as a Communion day, in order to atone for the unworthy treatment It has received when exposed upon the altars.I also promise that my Heart shall shed in abundance the influence of Its Divine love on all those who shall honor It or cause It to be so honored."

Saint John Eudes, a great apostle of the Sacred Heart composed an Office and a Mass of the Sacred Heart. In 1856, Pius IX established this feast as a first class one for the Universal Church. In spite of the hostility of the Governments and of all anticlerical laws in France since the Revolution, the Devotion to the Sacred Heart knew a great growth, especially during World War I. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre in Paris is one of its most visible fruits in Europe as the huge statue of Rio de Janeiro is in the New World. And how many invisible fruits cannot we count in so many souls all over the world?

My dear Brethren, we are here tonight, in this Cathedral of Atlanta, to celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We are here to try to bring more love to Jesus, abandoned too often in so many places throughout the world. It is very sad to see so many churches closed in Europe and everywhere else. There are no longer priests in a great number of parishes. Consequentially, there are no more faithful. Saint John Mary Vianney used to say that if a parish remains a few years without a priest, then people will worship animals. Look! What do people worship today? Money, sport, themselves etc… But who cares about God, and especially God in the Sacrament of the Eucharist? In 1675 Jesus said that He received from “the greater number nothing but ingratitude, contempt, irreverence, sacrilege, and coldness in this Sacrament of my love.” And what about today?

Dear brethren, members and friends of the Alliance of the two Hearts, it is our mission and our duty to be the apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and consequently of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Remaining passive would make us cowards and deserters at this time of struggle. What are the means by which we must do this? It is simple: prayers, sacrifice and Sacrament. In other words, we must be saints so that Our Lord Jesus Christ will be more loved. And I would like to insist on the Sacrament of the Eucharist. We must receive communion in reparation for sins. Listen to the twelfth promise of Jesus to Saint Marguerite-Marie: “In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.” How unbelievable is this promise, fruit of the excess of the Divine Mercy! Don’t you hear the call of your Savior who wants you to receive Him in this great Sacrament? The love of the Sacred Heart is inseparable from the love of the Sacrament of the Altar. One who loves the Sacred Heart is thirsty to receive the Holy Eucharist.

Logically and consequently the love of the Sacred Heart and of the Eucharist goes with the love of priesthood. It was again Saint John Mary Vianney who told in so beautiful words: “Priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus.” I wish, we, priests, could understand what that means with all its practical consequences. I wish you too, dear Christian faithful, could understand.

So go to the priests! Receive from them the Sacraments, especially at the communion rails – at least in the churches where the iconoclastic madness has not removed them – and in the confessionals. Sacraments are the gifts from the Heart of Jesus crucified. Go to the priest and ask them to come to your homes for the solemn enthronement of the Sacred Heart in your families. There are so many graces to receive from that. Go to the priests and hear from them the teaching of our good Master who wants nothing but our love. And if they, perchance, teach a new gospel as it happens sometimes, or maybe often, then tell them with charity that they might be on the wrong path and pray for them. Finally, pray for the vocations. And don’t pray to obtain good priests, but pray for holy priests. They will demand more from you, but it is for your own good. They will not tolerate your faults and your wild behavior, because tolerance is not the virtue of the saints, and sometime they will correct or reprimand you, but it is for your own good. They have better than tolerance to give you. They are the ministers of the mercy of God. Most of all, they will give you Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ, because they are priests just for this reason. Priests are the elect chosen by God to dispense the treasures of grace of the Heart of Jesus.

And Jesus is the Son of predilection loved by the Father from all eternity. Nevertheless the Father sent Him to death, because He also loves us. What a great mystery is the love of God for us! “For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.”
Dear brethren, let us not be resistant to such a love. Let us love as Jesus loves us, with no limit. You may think that it is not possible. Yet, it is possible, with the help of grace.

May the Immaculate Heart of Mary lead us to the Heart of Jesus so that we can be witness of the love of God for men.

Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine.

Amen !

dimanche, juin 18, 2006

Lauda Sion Salvatorem

Sermon for Corpus Christi
Bonum est diffusivum sui. This old philosophical adage shows the nature of goodness to propagate itself. Saint Thomas Aquinas sees here the fitness of the Incarnation. God wanted to become a man because He wanted to communicate to us His goodness. Since His very nature is goodness, God communicates Himself through the Person of His Son, true God and true Man.

But before to communicate Himself to men, God, first, communicates Himself…to Himself. Father Marie-Vincent Bernardot writes: God is an Ocean of life, and this Life, which is Light and Love, is thirsty for the spreading and giving itself. From all eternity, the Father gives Himself to His Son. Together, the Father and the Son give Themselves to the Holy Ghost, communicating to Him their unique divinity.

So, the communication of His Life to men is like a continuation and a prolongation of the intimate life of God into his creatures. Jesus is the Way, chosen by God to communicate His Life. Father Bernadot says again that the whole Divine Life flows in Him. The sacred authors give evidence of this truth. Because in him, it hath well pleased the Father, that all fullness should dwell, as Saint Paul attests (Col 1,19). And you know well the verse by Saint John that we hear during the last gospel: we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus, as a man, has received all from His Father and His mission is to communicate all that He has and even more; I would say all that He is. The Life of God is now given to us by and through Jesus Christ and here appears the fundamental and essential necessity of Divine grace. I am sure that you know your catechism very well and that it is not needed to remind you what the sanctifying grace is. Nevertheless, just in case your memory is faulty, let us recall that the sanctifying grace is a supernatural gift from God that makes us children of God by allowing us to participate in His nature. This one sentence involves so many consequences that I have to encourage you to meditate on it and to read about it, because it is impossible to explain all in one sermon. At least, I hope that your are aware that, if you are in state of grace. If this is not the case you have the opportunity to confess right after Mass. In this, you are participating in the Divine Nature of God and you can be called his children.
The Sacrament of Baptism incorporates us into the Mystical Body of Christ and gives us the grace. In this Mystical Body, Christ is the Head from which we, the members, receive all graces. In his very remarkable Encyclical Letter, Mystici Corporis, Pius XII shows how the Church can truly be called the body of Jesus Christ because He is the Founder, the Head, the Support and the Savior of this body. The Pope points out how the unity of the Body is strengthened by the Eucharist which is the physical Body of Jesus under the species of the bread and of the wine. This Sacrament is really the Sacrament of the Unity. Listen to Pope Pius XII:
"By means of the Eucharistic Sacrifice Christ our Lord willed to give to the faithful a striking manifestation of our union among ourselves and with our divine Head, wonderful as it is and beyond all praise. For in this Sacrifice the sacred minister acts as the vicegerent not only of our Savior but of the whole Mystical Body and of each one of the faithful. In this act of Sacrifice through the hands of the priest, by whose word alone the Immaculate Lamb is present on the altar, the faithful themselves, united with him in prayer and desire, offer to the Eternal Father a most acceptable victim of praise and propitiation for the needs of the whole Church. And as the Divine Redeemer, when dying on the Cross, offered Himself to the Eternal Father as Head of the whole human race, so "in this clean oblation" He offers to the heavenly Father not only Himself as Head of the Church, but in Himself His mystical members also, since He holds them all, even those who are weak and ailing, in His most loving Heart. "

Dear brethren, I would like to insist on the communal character of the Eucharist. Certainly, there is an intimate and very personal relation between Jesus and every single soul, but we cannot deny the communal and even the social aspect of this Sacrament. The procession we will have after the high Mass will help us to keep this truth in our minds. It is a public recognition of the Majesty of God and a public act of Faith in the real presence of Our Lord. In a Catholic country, the authorities pay tribute publicly to the Sacrament and the militaries salute and present arms before the Sacrament. In the old days, the entire community was involved and everybody participated in the procession: Officials, guilds, confraternities etc… A procession was very a social event. Of course, this is not the most important thing, but it is an indicator of the vitality and influence of Catholicism in a society.

As the Head of the Mystical Body, Our Lord have influence on all the members. He is the source from whom we receive grace and life. When someone is united to Jesus, he acts under the motion of the divine grace and his being is transformed. What is true for a person is also true for a community of persons. If there are enough people in a society who live united to Jesus, then this society itself is marked by Jesus. Grace changes not only the person but also societies.

The Eucharist brings the Divine Life of God into our souls. Then, full of grace and truth like Jesus, we become a light for the world and a way of conversion. I have already told you many times: the way we behave in front of the Holy Sacrament reflects our feelings toward God. Nonchalance and immodesty have no place in a church. And what about your inner feelings that only God can know? Do you think that jealousy or resentment are the right attitude for a Christian who is about to receive his Lord?

The Eucharist brings the Divine Life of God into our souls, yes, but we have to be well disposed to receive it. God wants to communicate Himself, but sadly too many people are not well disposed to welcome Him. Now, God is not forcing us. If we are not ready to welcome Him, He will not come by force. Then His grace will decline, and finally the Catholic religion will give way because so many Catholics are weak and half-hearted.

Dear brethren, it is now the time to stir up ourselves. It is the right time to return to your Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It is the time to renew your devotion and your fervor for such a Sacrament. It is the time to give yourself to Jesus as He gives Himself to you.

May Our Lady give us the love of the Eucharist which will make us ardent and zealous apostle of Her Son. May she help us to receive the Divine Live of Jesus in our souls for our greatest joy and the highest glory of God.