Thanks be to the members of the Alliance of the Two Hearts of Atlanta who allow us to gather once a month for the Vigil Mass.
It is always a great time to honor our Blessed Mother together. Be sure that Our Lady watches over her children and that she sees the sacrifices of those of you who come to be with her in the middle of the night.
Sermon of the Mass
in honor of
the Immaculate Heart of Mary
(Vigil Mass of the Alliance of the Two heart)
Once again we gather on the night of first Saturday for this Mass in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. For a liturgical reason, I cannot celebrate the Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart, as I usually do, because this day is Ember Saturday, which does not allow us to celebrate a Votive Mass.
The youngest among you, who are not familiar with the ancient Liturgy of the Church, have probably never heard of Ember days. For some others who were born before the birth of the “reformed missal” of 1969, perhaps this recalls for you some memories of a time that you thought had past. These Ember days are an old tradition in the Roman Church and it is certainly a great pity that they have been suppressed in the new calendar, along with many other old, and consequently venerable, traditions. They are an old tradition already known to have been practiced in Rome at least by the Third Century, perhaps earlier though not recorded. Then they spread throughout England, Gaul and Germany during the Merovingian period. Finally, in the XI Century, Pope Gregory VII arranged and prescribed them for the entire Church.
Their name, ‘Ember’ comes from the Latin ‘Quatuor tempora’, which means four times. Four times a year, at the beginning of the new season, three days of the week – Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – were consecrated for fasting and prayer. The purpose was to ask for the blessing of God for this new season. The Ember Saturday was even a very important date for the early Church of Rome for an additional reason, because it was the only day when Ordinations were performed.
The station of today’s Mass is at Saint Peter’s because the Ordinations of this day used to take place at the Vatican Basilica. A long nocturnal vigil preceded the Mass of Ordination on Ember Saturday. The five readings of the Mass are today a vestige of this vigil. They remind us of the Alliance between God and men and of our duties attached to this Alliance.
Dear brethren, many Catholics today ignore their duties toward God, because they have heard for a few decade priests preaching about what they call charity, but in reality it is nothing more than a sweetened humanism. Their new Decalogue can be summed up by this sentence: “Be nice to your neighbor and be tolerant!” They teach us about love and justice, but they forget that the first justice to practice is justice toward God, or, more specifically, the virtue of Religion, by which we render to God the honor that we owe Him. The first act of the virtue of Religion is to recognize our total dependence upon Him, and this is something very difficult for our contemporaries who have been completely indoctrinated for two centuries by every branch of the media on liberty, democracy, human rights, tolerance and so forth. Let us leave these ideals in the Masonic lodges. We don’t come to the churches to hear what we can already hear every where else, on the radios, televisions, and in the public schools and just about everywhere else. We come to the churches to hear what God tells us. And God’s words are definitively not the same as the words of the politicians and the masters of the modern thought, even when they invoke God to justify their actions.
Where is it written that God wants the sacrifice of human lives for the spread of the democracy? Where is it written that God asks us to be tolerant when this so-called virtue forces us to accept any false ideology? Where is it written that it is a good thing to accept without restriction Human Rights. It is precisely in the name of Human Rights that millions of human lives are killed in the wombs of their mothers, because they say that women have a right on their bodies. And do you know how many people have been killed in the name of Human Rights since its famous proclamation in 1789? It is not a coincidence that the first victims of this new religion were Catholics during the Reign of Terror. Satan knows who his enemies are. I do not hesitate to say that these Human Rights are the first cause of death in the world.
It is in the name of Human Rights that we should accept same sex marriage, which is against nature. It is in the name of Human Rights that we should accept the moral decadence of our countries.
No, dear Brethren, we cannot accept this new order of the world. Satan likes to presents evil under the appearance of good. So let us not be mistaken. Men cannot change evil into good, even by democratic laws. But, by our will, we can change into evil what God has created as good. The world is the work of God. But men try to change it.
This Liturgy of Ember days reminds us of the supremacy of God over the world. It reminds us that we have to offer to Him the first fruits of the earth. It reminds us of the Alliance He wanted to make with us, but also of our duties attached to this Alliance. It reminds us that it is good for us to turn to God, because He is not a tyrant but a Father who loves us. He knows what is good and what is bad for us. It is for this reason that He gave us Commandments. The Commandments of God are the expression of His love for us. If we keep them, we will find life and love. They are our safe-conduct toward happiness.
So dear Brethren, if we are against Human Rights, same sex marriage, abortion and so forth, it is because they hurt our human nature and are a trespass against God. We are first for God, love and life. We condemn evil because it is evil, but we don’t condemn men who commit it. They don’t need our reprobation, but our Charity, a true Charity which has God for its principle. God will be their judge, as He will be ours at the hour of our death. Now, let us be their intercessors, because Charity goes to the love of our enemies as Jesus tells us. They don’t know God; We do, as much as we can by the Revelation. We know Him because His Son came into the World and gave us the possibility to know Him. But the world knew Him not, as Saint John says.
So dear Brethren, we have the duty to let the world know that Our Lord Jesus Christ came into the World to save us. He came to save us because we were lost, and we are still lost without Him. We are lost if we don’t turn to Him and if we don’t accept His mercy. We are lost if we don’t listen to Him and if we don’t keep His words. Lent is the time of conversion, the time to turn to Him, to listen to Him and to follow Him. Only He can save us form the flames of Hell where our sins lead us. It is not a metaphor, but the truth.
This truth was shown by Our Lady, that we honor tonight, to the children of Fatima. She asked them to pray the Rosary, and to pray it well. At Lourdes, she asked Bernadette to do penance. We don’t like to do penance, but we must and we need to. Dear Brethren, if you don’t do penance now during Lent, why would you do it another time? This Ember Liturgy reminds us of the necessity of doing penance, which is justice toward God. It is a way to make reparation for our sins and to beg God for his graces. A modern, not to mention a modernist, way of thinking says that the best penance is to practice charity. But it is not exactly the same thing. Charity is not a kind of magic word which covers everything. The best way to do penance is to do some acts of penance, and the traditional way to do penance is fasting. The prayers of the Mass remind us every day during Lent of the benefits of fasting. Let us not neglect such a salutary exercise, especially for those who are attached to this venerable Liturgy. But I hope this Liturgy is not just one part of your life among many others, but really the center of your life, which gives a sense to all your other activities and to your life itself, because it puts you directly in relation with God. It gives us the sense of God, the sense of His Holiness and consequently of our condition as sinners. It also gives us the sense of reparation that we should have.
So dear Brethren, Charity is not penance. We need both. Let us turn to the Immaculate Heart of Mary to obtain them. Let us follow Our Lady of sorrows in the way of the Cross, not by balking, but with generosity. She will teach us how to truly love according to the Heart of her Son. Let us follow her, for the glory of God, the salvation of souls and the exaltation of Holy Mother Church.