dimanche, novembre 11, 2007

Sermon for 5th Sunday after Epiphany ( transferred)

The good seed and cockle are mixed together. When a farmer sees some cockles in his field, his first reaction is to remove them. He wants what is best for his crops in order to obtain the best quality, so that he can feed his family with good and healthy food and sell the best products on the market. Our Lord tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sows good seed in his field. But it happens that cockle appears. The servants spontaneously volunteer to remove it, but they are stopped by the Master. It is not yet the time because lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. They have to wait until the harvest. Today’s gospel, along with the epistle, is rich with teaching and we certainly need to take time to meditate on these texts.

Let us see first the reason of the cockle. From where does it come? It comes from the enemy when the man is asleep. According to Saint John Chrysostom, this concerns the bishops who are overseers of the flock. If they are asleep, which means, if they are not vigilant, the enemy comes and spreads his pernicious teaching. It is really a huge task which is required from the Shepherds of the Church. Their vigilance has to be constant and alert, because the enemy never stops. As soon as he glimpses a little failure, he penetrates into the edifice and then, little by little, he extends his influence. We may not see him immediately, but then, when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle.
It is what happens in the Church when the good principles which insure the teaching of the authentic faith are not kept. With time, the good doctrine dissolves itself among the errors. Even the most faithful finish by blurting out blunders on such or such points of doctrine if they don’t firmly hold the good principles. Just to give an example, we hear so many times, even among Catholics who are supposedly conservative, that aborted babies can only be in heaven because God is so good that He can only have mercy on them. This is touching, but what about the reality of original sin and the necessity of baptism?
I do not pretend that there is no way of salvation for these souls who are victims of the most terrible genocide of all times, but we have absolutely no certitude of their eternal destiny. What is sure is that we are all marked by original sin and that baptism is necessary. Faith is not a matter of feelings or emotions but it is a firm assent of our intelligence enlightened by the light of God to the truths revealed by God and taught by the Church. It is a science and as such, it is something precise and well defined. The Bishops have the grave obligation to be vigilant in order to protect and to promote it, in order to impede the enemy to sow his cockle that leads to perdition of souls.
Now, the reaction of the disciples would be to remove the cockle as we said. But Jesus says: no, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. As Saint John Chrysostom explains, our Lord is saying that He wants to prevent wars, murders and bloodshed, because many innocent could be included in such acts. It happens also that the cockle can turn into good seed. Saint Francis de Sales gives us a beautiful example of what we can obtain through patience and love as he brought many Protestants back to the true faith, who were mislead in their errors. We may have a desire for an expeditious justice but we should rather consider the sweetness of Jesus, as Saint John Chrysostom invites us. It does not impede the Church to judge and condemn but it also allows the heretics to convert.
And finally, if they persevere in their malice, they will be judged by God himself and will necessarily fall into the inevitable justice. “In the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn.”
Now, we can apply this parable to ourselves. The man who is asleep could be you or me. If I am not vigilant, if I neglect my spiritual life and my doctrinal formation, the enemy will easily sow cockle in my life. But we recognize a tree by its fruits.
What are the fruits of my life? Saint Paul tells us, that as elected of God, we have to put on the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty and patience. My first reaction would be to check on my neighbor to see if he or she really has the qualities asked for by Saint Paul. It is always easier to find the defects of others, but I should rather check on myself. Am I merciful? Am I humble, modest and patient?
Then Saint Paul wishes that the word of Christ dwell in us abundantly. Well, it is not something that happens by magic without us doing anything. It supposes a constant and regular life of prayer and daily reading of the Scriptures which leads toward meditation. Then, if the word of God dwells in me, it will affect my heart and give me peace. It will make me recognize in my fellow parishionners some brothers in Christ. It will push me to sing with my them, psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles. As Saint Paul says, it will be an instruction for us.
And where is the best place to sing to the Lord if not at church? We should sing with our whole heart and with our most beautiful voice at church, especially Sunday Mass. Saint John Chrysostom, commenting on this passage from Saint Paul, says that we must not content ourselves by singing with our lips, but also with our heart. But if you even do not sing with your lips, how can you pretend that you sing with you heart, unless you are a kind of ventriloquist. And singing is not only rendering glory to God; it is also teaching the people. You can teach good by singing psalms and spiritual canticles. You can also teach evil and I don’t have to give any examples, we already have a lot on TV and radio. For this reason, Saint John Chrysostom warns us to: Teach children how to sing the Psalms full of wisdom. Then we have to teach them the hymns, composed by the Church. Saint John Chrysostom mentions for example the Gloria in excelsis Deo well known by the faithful.

Then, came a little story, but you had to be in North Little Rock this morning to hear it!

9 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

M. l'abbe, your homily was interesting, esp. when you mentioned the aborted babies.

If the time of the Mercy of God is now on earth for us creatures who have a chance to live,and at our death it will be the time of His Justice upon our souls, could we imagine that maybe for these babies it is the opposite? His Mercy will be poured on these babies' souls. I realize that what I said is probably not theologically based. It's probably just wishful thinking.

Father Demets a dit…

Well, Justice and mercy are not opposed.
The fact is original sin is a sin of nature and affect all human beings as they share the same human nature. Only Our Lady has been preserved by a special privilege from God. But for all human persons, they are marked by original sin and the effect of this sin, as for any mortal sin, is the impossibility of seeing God. Only Baptism can remove original sin and open for a soul the gate of Heaven.
This is justice, and this is the unfaillible teaching of the Church. I will give the documents of the Church regarding this matter soon.
Now the babies who die before the use of their reason have no personal fault on their conscience, and God who is good cannot punish a soul for fault not commited personnaly. For that reason, many theologians think that these souls go to the Limbos, where they don't see God, but still enjoy a natural happiness. It has never been defined by the Church, so the faithfull are not obliged to believe this.
But what is sure, is that we cannot say with certitude that the aborted babies are for sure in Heaven.

Anonyme a dit…

Je comprends et apprecie votre reponse mais je suis tres triste de penser qu'un enfant aborte, par la faute de ses parents,ne vit "que d'un bonheur naturel". Apres tout, ils ont aussi une ame qui ne desire qu'une chose, c'est d'etre avec Dieu.
Vous pouvez publier ceci comme vous pouvez ne pas le publier, ca n'a aucune importance. Merci encore de votre reponse.
On voit ainsi les ravages du peche.

Anonyme a dit…

November 13, 2007

The sermon is a truly insightful explanation into the meaning of the Gospel. Yet, with regard to abortion, the lack of Baptism, and its effect on the eternal happiness of the affected infants, how does one reconcile the Church's position relative to the Holy Innocents who surely are in Heaven?

Your Hon. Friend
and Faithful Reader

Father Demets a dit…

That is a good question. Well, the Church has declared them Holy, because they have been killed by hatred of Christ. So they truly deserve the title of martyrs, which is Baptism of blood. Also, certainly most of them have been circumsed. Circumsion could justify male in the regime of the old Law.
I know that some say that aborted babies can be considered as martyrs, since abortion is certainly the sign of the "culture of death" that fights against "the cultures of life" as Pope John Paul II would say. There is certainly a will of Satan agaisnt God behind abortion. But can we say for each single case that this baby has been murdered by hatred of Christ. I am not so sure of that!

Father Demets a dit…

Sorry... circumcised and not circumsed !

Anonyme a dit…

Dear Fr. Demets, thank you for your homily and comments. Well said and taught about the aborted babies. Now for a comment regarding hymns and singing from one who assists at Mass in North Little Rock. Here the congregation (which is small in number)does not sing the hymns along with the choir. Hopefully the reason is not because we are lacking in the word of Christ dwelling in us; however, lack of devotion may be part of it for some. Primarily here, I believe the reason is that the congregation is comprised primarily of the baby boomer generation and younger whose entire upbringing has been in the Novus Ordo where the liturgy and the hymns were far from traditional. We grew up on hymns such as "One Bread One Body", "Gather Us In", "Here I am Lord", "On Eagles Wings", etc. The other part of the congregation is made up of converts from Protestant denominations who are not familiar with Latin hymns as well. So that is one area of weakness... lack of familiarity and knowledge of the tradtional Latin hymns.
Learning the hymns and singing them well and beautifully will come from hearing them done well by the choir. This is another major weakness. Choirs which produce beautiful sacred music entice the congregation to sing along. A director must have expertise not only in the Traditional music, but in the traditional Latin Liturgy as well. Beautiful music also swells from an interior devotion to Our Lord and a desire to please Him and give Him glory through the sacred music of the Church. The absence of beautiful music and singing by all can be indicative of both a lack of education and devotion.

How often music can be a distraction and a detriment to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass if not done musically and liturgically correct. A quiet, low Mass on Sunday may be more desirable to one seeking communion with God if the music at the High Mass is more of an agonizing distraction than an element of beauty directing all to God.
St. Cecilia, pray for us!

Anonyme a dit…

Dear Fr. Demets, thank you for your homily and teaching especially with regard to aborted babies. Now on to another aspect of your homily... singing. The North Little Rock congregation (a very small one at that) does not sing the hymns with the choir. Many may think this odd and may conclude that we are not filled with the word of God and His peace and thus not urged on to sing. This may be true for some; however, this observation may help those who cannot understand why there is not much singing. Much of the congregation of the North Little Rock Latin Mass apostolate (which again must be noted is sparsely populated in comparison to other apostolates) is comprised of the baby boomer generation and younger whose entire Catholic upbringing has been in the Novus Ordo where the liturgy and music were far from traditional. We grew up and know hymns such as "One Bread One Body", "Gather us In", "Here I am Lord", "On Eagles Wings" and other such 'songs'. The other members of the Apostolate are converts from other Protestant denominations who do not have a knowledge of Traditional Catholic Hymns as well.

All of these shortcomings of the congregation can be overcome by them hearing beautiful sacred hymns and chant each week at Mass. A choir lead by interior devotion to Our Lord and a desire to bring Him Glory through sacred Music along with expertise in music and the Traditional Latin Liturgy will entice the entire congregation to lift their voices in song.

How often music can be a distraction and detriment to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass if not done liturgically and musically correct. There are those who desire union with the Lord and attend the quiet low Mass on Sundays, since the music at the High Mass can be more of an agonizing distraction than an element of beauty which gives glory to God.

This commentary is not a reflection of your pastoring-- on the contrary! It is good the lack of singing has been noted!
A humble sheep of your flock.

Father Demets a dit…

Thank you for your comments ! My goal for the Apostolate of North Little Rock is to improve the Liturgy and I will be very demanding on this matter. It concerns priests, altar servants, choir members and the congregation... in other words, every one !
Gregorian chant classes will come soon. Any Congregation can easily sing some Kyriales ( 8th and 11th at least ) and other pieces like Tantum Ergo, Salve Regina etc... without any problem ! It does not require a lot of talent... but just the love of the Lord !
Ament et cantabunt!