"Into Great Silence" is a very strict, next to silent meditation on monastic life in a very pure form. No music except the chants in the monastery, no interviews, no commentaries, no extra material. Changing of time, seasons, and the ever repeated elements of the day, of the prayer. A film to become a monastery, rather than depict one. A film on awareness, absolute presence, and the life of men who devoted their lifetimes to God in the purest of form. Contemplation. An object in time. "Into Great Silence" is the first film ever about life inside the Grande Chartreuse, the mother house of the legendary Carthusian Order in the French Alps.
The Lord is the strength of his people, and the protector of the salvation of his anointed!
Sermon for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost
Today’s Introit, taken from the Psalm 27, comes to invigorate our faith and our hope. “The Lord is the strength of his people, and the protector of the salvation of his anointed.” It is good for us, and comforting, to open the Holy Scriptures and to read these verses which sustain our Christian life. God is my strength and the protector of my salvation!
Dear Brethren, when you are beset by doubts, when you are tempted with discouragement, when you are tired because you have so many tasks to complete, when you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, when you just want to give in and admit defeat, just remember that Our Lord Jesus Christ is your strength. This thought made Saint Paul exclaims: “ If God be for us, who is against us? ”
I particularly like this verse from the Epistle to the Romans which I chose for my card of ordination: “If God be for us, who is against us?” God is our strength and our protection and no one nor anything can stop us or knock us down if we are with God under his protection. Who is against us? Of course, by choosing God, we build up an army of enemies against us, but what can they do against us? Even if they take our life, it would only be for our benefit.
So, dear Brethren, we have no excuse for giving up our duties toward God, especially the sanctification of our soul which is truly a duty. Temptations? They are no excuse. Difficulties? They are no excuse. Our weakness? It is not an excuse either. Certainly, we can fall, and God knows how very weak the flesh is, but we cannot give up our duties and push God out of our life just because we think that we cannot do what He wants us to do. What a trespass against Him! What a lack of faith! What a shame! Nothing can justify such abandonment.
Dear Brethren, by choosing God, we don’t take the easiest road. It is again Saint Paul who tells us that we are baptized in the death of Jesus Christ. We are buried with Him. It is not just a kind of image, a beautiful thought expressed in a poetic way. We are truly dead and buried with Jesus Christ and with this truth come certain very real responsibilities which we can sum up and condense into one word: the Cross! The Cross of Jesus Christ! We like to have it on the walls of our rooms, that’s nice, but we usually don’t like to have it on our shoulders. Yet, on our shoulders is the most appropriate place for the cross. We like to understand the idea of the Cross and to think about it, but we don’t like to carry it. Yet, before we can have a beautiful concept to understand and contemplate, it is first an object we should embrace and carry. The Cross is our way to salvation and the source of our life. There is no salvation and no life without the Cross.
Now, comes the usual objection: “But I cannot carry this cross. It is too heavy! O God, please, I would like to carry my Cross with Jesus, but please, give me another one!” O men of little faith! Don’t you know that God knows better than you what is good for you? Don’t you know that He is perfectly wise and that He gives each of us what we need? If God gives you one cross instead of another, it is because this cross is the perfect cross for you. And, rest assured, that He will give you the strength to carry it. “The Lord is the strength of his people, and the protector of the salvation of his anointed.” Where will you find the Lord? Where will you find the strength and the protection He promises us? Right here, at the altar, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Listen to Jesus: “If I shall send them away fasting to their home, they will faint in the way; for some of them came from afar off.” Our home is heaven and it is far from here. God knows this and gives us the food which makes us strong enough to be able to reach our eternal home. Pope Saint Pius X, after having condemned the Jansenist belief to the contrary, teaches that Our Lord desires for us to receive Him every day in the Sacrament of the altar. This pious practice strengthens our union with Our Lord and is the best way to keep our soul in the state of grace.
Dear brethren, the Lord is your strength and I hope you will not be fools by rejecting Him. The fact is, that without Him, you will fall time and time again in mortal sin. Yet, God gives you the means to keep your soul in the state of grace. Don’t offend Him by rejecting His graces.
May Our Lady lead us to the altar and help us to prepare ourselves for Holy Communion. It is already the early beginnings of Heaven.
Dear Brethren, I hope you have understood and taken to heart the following admonition of Our Lord, because it is a serious one. “For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
What is the justice of the scribes and Pharisees? It is a justice which is only concerned with appearances. Their justice consists of making themselves look like very pious Christians, because it is very important for people to see how good and holy they are. It is a display and sometime a show of their qualities and abilities. When a parish has the grace to number such gifted persons among its ranks, it is very important that everyone in the parish recognize their talents and the least we can do is to congratulate them for this. Scribes and Pharisees, indeed, don’t like to work for nothing. They appreciate flattery so much, that it would be a disgrace to refuse to shower them with compliments. Finally, their justice is their glory. The glory of God is the least of their worries, even though they claim the contrary. But we recognize them not by their words but, instead, by their actions and one day, their action will end up betraying them. It has always been the same story from the beginning of time, and yet there are still today some Pharisees who believe that they can be right and successful. It’s amazing how much pride can make us blind.
So, the scribes and the Pharisees regard themselves highly just because they know well the teaching of the Church, or at least, they think they know it well, and they zealously follow the divine precepts, except the most important one which is the commandment of charity. They come to the Church and they want to be sure that we can see them praying, singing and accomplishing the acts of our holy religion with a great care, but their heart is dry. They recite their prayer, but they don’t pray. They worship God like a robot, but they don’t love Him like a man. This is all their justice. Poor and miserable Christians!
And what about us, dear Brethren? Don’t we have the temptation to be like them? We would like to judge them, and by doing this, we become like them. Certainly, they are wrong, there is no doubt about this, but unless our justice abound more than theirs, we shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
May Our Lady give us this perfect justice which come from God only. We should read and meditate on the epistle of today, and ask for the grace to be able to apply it in our lives. Saint Peter tells us what is justice according to the heart of Jesus. This should be our justice, which abound more than the scribes and Pharisees. Amen!
On Friday 7 July 2006, the General Chapter of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, gathered in Wigratzbad (Germany), has elected Fr. John Berg as Superior General for a six-year term according to law.
An American citizen, Fr. Berg has studied philosophy in the USA and theology in Germany (Wigratzbad) and in Rome. He has worked in pastoral ministry and as a seminary professor. Very Rev. Fr. Berg is the third Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.
We would like to congratulate Father Berg for his election and assure him of our prayers.
We also pray for all the priests and seminarists of the Fraternity, especially for Father Devillers who has been our Superior General for the last six years.
“Who is the Son of man?” When Jesus asked this question, it was not the first time that he used the expression “Son of man”. Nevertheless, many people were apprehensive about Him. For some, the Son of man was John the Baptist; for others, he was Elias; and for others still, He was Jeremiah or one of the prophets. No one among them confessed that He was the Messiah, the Son of God. Many Jews recognized in Jesus an extraordinary man, but they didn’t confess his divinity.
This error is still relevant today. The majority of people believe in Jesus, or at least in a certain Jesus, but among them, many don’t believe that He is God. Their belief might be a path toward Faith, but it is not yet Faith and as such is useless for eternal life. For some, Jesus was a great man, maybe the greatest man in History. For others, he was just an avatar of the divinity, the same as Buddha or Krishna for example. But He was not the Son of God who came into the world to save us. They don’t recognize this truth as yet necessary for their salvation.
“But whom do you say that I am?” Now, this is the question which is asked of you. Remember, the priest asked you this question one day; the day of your baptism. “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, who was born into this world and who suffered?” Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, God Himself and your unique Savior? The answer is either yes or no. You either believe or you don’t, and the fact that you believe or not will affect your entire life and most of all your eternity. The words of Jesus are clear and final: “He that believes and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believes not shall be condemned.”
These words seem hard to hear, especially today in a world of relativism that has swept away all notion of truth in the name of reason even though truth is precisely the object of reason. Once, Jesus had asked for an act of Faith for the Eucharist. He said: “For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me, and I in him.” But reason, revolting against what it cannot understand, had cried out: “This saying is hard, and who can hear it?” Then, Our Lord had turned to the Twelve, expecting from them the right answer of Faith. This had to come from the mouth of Simon-Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.” This was the profession of Faith of Capharnaum.
Today, Jesus asks another question. “But whom do you say that I am?” Once again, the answer comes from Simon-Peter: “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is the profession of Faith of Caesarea.
Peter knows that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. His knowledge comes from God, not from flesh and blood. Reason cannot discover this truth by itself. We can confess the divinity of Jesus Christ only by Faith.! “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven!” Blessed is he who believes this! Blessed is he who has Faith!
Right after his proclamation of Faith, Our Lord appointed, Simon the rock upon whom He would build His Church. Simon became Peter, which means rock in Hebrew – Kephas – and Christ promised to give him the keys of the kingdom of Heaven with the power to bind and lose. In other words, and it is not difficult to understand this, Peter was established chief and head of the Church. His ministry is mainly and essentially a pastoral ministry, which means that Peter must protect and defend his flock and lead it to the eternal pasture land. The word “pastoral” has been overused for the last past decades, to the detriment of the word “dogmatic”. It is nonsense because ‘pastoral’ and ‘dogmatic’ don’t contradict each other, but, instead, suppose each other. Peter, who is the universal pastor of the flock is also the keeper and the defender of Faith, because without Faith, the flock is lost. Dogmas are nothing other than Faith expressed in human words and an attempt to apprehend as much as we can, the mystery of God. “Feed my sheep!” The sheep of Jesus Christ need a substantial food and the milk of a good doctrine. They are given to us by the Church, through the Sacraments and Her teaching. Peter is the head of the Church. As such Sacraments must be performed and celebrated in communion with him; and he is the guarantor of the teaching of Faith.
Let us pray to Saint Peter, chief of the Apostles, and for his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. Let us pray especially this week for our General Chapter, as well as for the General Chapter of the Society of Saint Pius X.
May Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles, help Peter and his task, for the highest glory of God and the good of all the faithful… and there shall be one fold and one shepherd