mercredi, décembre 23, 2009

Christmas schedule

At Cherokee Village
December 24th:
- 9:30 pm: Matins followed by the chant of the Genealogy of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
December 25th:
- Midnight: Midnight Mass (High Mass)
- Réveillon (Christmas party) after Midnight Mass
-7 am Mass at Dawn ( Low Mass)
At Mountain Home
December 25th:
- 5 pm: Mass of the Day (High Mass)
Keep Christ in Christmas also means keep Christmas in Christmas time!
(Christmas time begins on December 24th with the First Vespers and ends on January 13th. It gives 3 weeks to celebrate the Nativity of Our Saviour. It is not appropriate to celebrate it and have "Christmas" party durind Advent that is a time of preparation and of penance)

dimanche, décembre 13, 2009

Donec dies elucescat

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent
(with my gratitude to Cardinal Newman)
We continue today our meditation on Antichrist. We have seen last week, with the help of Cardinal Newman, how Antichrist has been preparing the field for his coming throughout the History. We have looked upon the Modernist heresy that dissolves Christ and destroys the Church of Christ from inside as certainly one of his greatest victory, though we know that the final victory will be for Christ.
Now let us be prudent when we speak about his coming. The fact that we are in the midst of the greatest heresy of all time does not necessarily mean that Antichrist is coming soon. The first Christians already thought they would see it and it was announced many times at different periods. Saint Hilary in the IV century said that his coming was imminent. Saint Bernard, looking at the impiety of his time was expecting to see the Man of sin and Son of perdition announced by Saint Paul. Yet none of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church have dared to announce a precise date as the Scripture itself does not mention any. In fact, Saint John says that Antichrist is now already in the world. The city of Antichrist, like the City of God, progresses and develops as History unfolds. We know that Antichrist will come, and this will be when apostasy will come. So he is preparing his coming as Christ has prepared His. Now is this time of Apostasy is his time or not, we do not know. It might be! But it can be just a great shadow that announces the final apostasy.
We also know that it will be a time of persecution. In fact persecutions certainly are a characteristic mark of the Church. “They are not indeed the necessary lot of the Church, Cardinal Newman says, but at least one of her appropriate badges; so that on the whole, looking at the course of history, you might set down persecution as one of the peculiarities by which you recognize her. And our Lord seems to intimate how becoming, how natural persecution is to the Church, by placing it among His Beatitudes.
"Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

They have been some persecution here or there throughout the history of the Church, but we are expecting a great persecution to come, as there was a great persecution at her beginning. It is precisely what the liturgy tells us every year on the first Sunday of Advent and on the last Sunday of the year. The city of Antichrist is a city of irreligion and of hatred. The modern times looks like the ancient times in many aspects, though there are many differences. Irreligion and hatred: the executioners and barbarians of the French Revolution killing priests, religious, women and children with a satisfaction that they even did not hide have nothing to envy at Nero, Diocletian and the Romans who knew how to display a great refinement in the art of torture. Rome was precisely considered as the city of Antichrist.
But Rome must fall before the coming of Antichrist. The Roman Empire has disappeared and has been replaced by kingdoms. But according to the prophet Daniel, a new king will come and crush the other kings and he shall speak words against the High One, and shall crush the saints of the most High: and he shall think himself able to change times and laws. Again we must be prudent when we try to interpret the prophecies. What I personally retain is that this king – is he a physical person or an ideology or a regime? – shall think himself able to change times and laws. This is precisely the agenda of the Revolution. And wherever the Revolution takes place in the world, Christians are persecuted: France, Mexico, Russia, Spain and so forth.

Now, brethren, let us consider these words spoken by Cardinal Newman in 1835 – he was not yet a Cardinal; he was even not yet a Catholic, but he already had a clear understanding of the situation. “Is the enemy of CHRIST, and His Church, to arise out of a certain special falling away from GOD? And is there no reason to fear that some such Apostasy is gradually preparing, gathering, hastening on in this very day? For is there not at this very time a special effort made almost all over the world, that is, every here and there, more or less, in sight or out of sight, in this or that place, but most visibly or formidably in its most civilized and powerful parts, an effort to do without religion? Is there not an opinion avowed and growing, that a nation has nothing to do with religion; that it is merely a matter for each man's own conscience,-which is all one with saying that we may let the truth fail from the earth without trying to continue it? Is there not a vigorous and united movement in all countries to cast down the Church of Christ from power and place? Is there not a feverish and ever busy endeavour to get rid of the necessity of religion in public transactions? an attempt to educate without religion? an attempt to make expedience, and not truth the end and the rule of measures of state and the enactments of law an attempt to make numbers, and not truth, the ground of maintaining, or not maintaining this or that creed, as if we had any reason whatever in Scripture for thinking that the many will be in the right, and the few in the wrong? an attempt in fact, to destroy religion?”

Surely, there is at this day a confederacy of evil, marshalling its hosts from all parts of the world, organizing itself, taking its measures, enclosing the Church of Christ as in a net, and preparing the way for a general apostasy from it. Whether this very apostasy is to give birth to Antichrist, or whether he is still to be delayed, we cannot know; but at any rate this apostasy, and all its tokens, and instruments, are of the Evil One and saviour of death. Far be it from any of us to be of those simple ones, who are taken in that snare which is circling around us! Far be it from us to be seduced with the fair promises in which Satan is sure to hide his poison! Do you think he is so unskillful in his craft, as to ask you openly and plainly to join him in his warfare against the Truth? No; he offers you baits to tempt you. He promises you civil liberty; he promises you equality; he promises you trade and wealth; he promises you a remission of taxes; he promises you reform. This is the way in which he conceals from you the kind of work to which he is putting you; he tempts you to rail against your rulers and superiors; he does so himself, and induces you to imitate him; or he promises you illumination,-he offers you knowledge, science, philosophy, enlargement of mind. He scoffs at times gone by; he scoffs at every institution which reveres them. He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how to become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his.

The situation today is certainly worst than it was 170 years ago. Yet it is not a reason to despair. After he spoke about Antichrist in his letter to the Thessalonians, Saint Paul told them, and he tells us now: For we have heard there are some among you who walk disorderly: working not at all, but curiously meddling. Now we charge them that are such and beseech them by the Lord Jesus Christ that, working with silence, they would eat their own bread.
Be aware of the situation, of the trickeries of Satan and of the world, but let them not be a motive of distraction to you. It is on Our Lord Jesus Christ that we have to focus. Being a Christian is much more than fighting evil. It is first becoming a Saint, and precisely by being a Saint you would fight evil better. Let us listen to the wise admonestation that Cardinal Newman gives at the end of his four sermons on Antichrist:
"I will say, in conclusion, as I have already said several times, that such meditations as these may be turned to good account. What a curb upon our self-willed, selfish hearts, to believe that a persecution is in store for the Church, whether or not it comes in our days! Surely with this thought before us, we cannot bear to give ourselves up to thoughts of ease and comfort, of making money, settling well, or rising in the world. Surely with this thought before us, we cannot but feel that we are, what all Christians really are in the best estate, (nay rather would wish to be had they their will, if they be Christians in heart) pilgrims, watchers waiting for the morning, waiting for the light, eagerly straining our eyes for the first dawn of day—looking out for our Savior’s coming, His glorious advent, when He will end the reign of sin and wickedness, accomplish the number of His elect, and perfect those who at present struggle with infirmity, yet in their hearts love and obey Him."

And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts. (2Peter 1,19)

mercredi, décembre 09, 2009

Sermon for the feast of the Immaculate Conception

The Mass of the feast of the Immaculate Conception begins with the Introit “Gaudens gaudebo” in the third mode, which is the “mysticus modus” – mode of mysticism and contemplation. This beautiful piece is also marked with a deep and intense joy. This piece is assuredly an invitation to enter into the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to feel and to taste the joy that she would express so admirably when she would sing her Magnificat. The Immaculate Conception has received the fullness of the grace of God that envelops her like a coat. God has clothed her with the garment of salvation – vestimentum salutis – and this is the reason of her unspeakable joy. This is precisely on these words that the Gregorian melody reaches its peak, telling us that there is not greater joy than being covered by the grace of God.

After original sin, Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nudity. Their eyes were opened, as the book of Genesis reports it. They began to look at some realities that had not attracted their attention until then. Concupiscence had turned their hearts, but in the same time, they realized that they were deprived of the grace of God. Their bodies became subject to death, sickness and other infirmities. They became object of sins – what Saint Paul would call later the works of the flesh. Once you have abandoned your reason in order to sin and that the grace of God covers you no longer, you are like an animal. Man has been defined as a rational animal. But is he still rational he who sins? He might be still rational as he can still use his reason to understand his condition and be ashamed of it. He is certainly no longer reasonable. The order of the Divine grace is different than the order of nature, but one cannot separate them. By trespassing against the first one, men corrupt the other one. Original sin is truly a sin of nature – peccatum naturae – not only because it has affected the whole human nature and in a certain way all the whole nature, but also because it is a revolt of the nature and a sin against nature. Therefore the punishment would fall on the nature and would strike anyone who shares in it by virtue of descent from Adam.
The great theologians of the Middle Ages, following Saint Augustine, had well understood this reality. Universality of sin is a truth that we cannot omit. Mary, as a descendant of Adam and Eve must have been affected too. And she would have been without a unique and particular privilege given to her by God. It took 19 centuries to finally realize this great privilege. If today the name of Immaculate Conception sounds familiar to all the faithful, it was not the case 150 years ago. Bernadette Soubirous did not understand the words of Our Lady when she told her name: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” How deep are the mysteries of God and of our salvation! But how beautiful they are!
Mary, the Immaculate Conception is the response of God to original sin. It is His most beautiful work after the humanity of Our Savior; and precisely the Immaculate Conception of Mary is the jewel case that receives the humanity of the Redeemer. The first Eve, by her own work had uncovered the grace of God. The new Eve, without any merits from her part, has been recovered in a more admirable manner. She has been raised above all the creatures, and for this she is the humblest of all as Dom Delatte says. This is the condition of any creature. This is the grace of the Immaculate Conception. Our Lady had never belonged to the enemy. She had never belonged to herself neither. She is entirely to God: Totus Tuus!

The Immaculate Conception is, according to Dom Delatte, the exercise of all the faculties submitted to the reason; interior harmony; sovereignty; modesty; this measure and this perfect peace; the full possession by God; the quiet and grave march of a creature that is in the hand of God.

This is what is expressed by today’s Introit that is an invitation to follow the Immaculate Conception toward God. We are invited to share the shame peace and harmony, the same sovereignty and modesty. This is the gift of Christmas that is anticipated by the grace of the Immaculate Conception: a grace that was given to Mary, but that is for all men!

samedi, novembre 14, 2009

Press release form the Fraternity of Saint Peter

Watch a Solemn High Tridentine Mass Broadcast Live on EWTN

DENTON, Nebraska (13 November 2009) On Saturday, 21 November 2009, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, Father Laurent Demets, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, will celebrate a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. To be televised live on EWTN at 7:00AM (CST), this special Mass will take place at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama.

About the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter
Established in 1988 by Pope John Paul II, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter is a Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right. The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter serves the Catholic Church by means of its own particular objective, i.e. the sanctification of priests through the faithful celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Through the spiritual riches of the Church’s ancient Roman liturgy, the priests of the Fraternity seek to sanctify those entrusted to their care. The Priestly Fraternity instructs and trains priests to preserve, promote, and protect the Church's authentic liturgical and spiritual traditions. The Fraternity has over 200 priests worldwide. Over 125 seminarians study in its two international seminaries in Bavaria, Germany and Denton, Nebraska.

About EWTN
Founded by Mother Angelica, the EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 28th year, is available in more than 150 million television households in 144 countries and territories. EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world.

Watch The Mass Live Online!

Media Contact
Father Joseph Lee, FSSP
Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary
7880 West Denton Road
Denton, Nebraska 68339

mercredi, novembre 04, 2009

Music and Liturgy on EWTN

Fr. Fromageot, FSSP of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska will be appearing on EWTN’s Life on the Rock with Father Mark Mary and Doug Barry.

Father will be discussing Gregorian Chant and how it helps the liturgy fulfill its twofold end; namely, the worship of God and the sanctification of souls.

Channel: EWTN Global Catholic Network
Date: Thursday, November 12, 2009
Time: 8:00PM

samedi, octobre 24, 2009

Lead us not into the zone of dissimilarity

Sermon for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost

Be ye filled with the Holy Spirit speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord.
Dear Brethren, Saint Paul invites the Christians to praise God by speaking and singing. This is not the first time the Sacred Scriptures call us to sing. Saint Paul in the first epistle to the Corinthians says: I will sing with the spirit, I will sing with the understanding. Certain English translations say ‘pray’ instead of ‘sing’ but the latin word of the Vulgat is ‘psallam’ which means I will sing the Psalms. This verse of Saint Paul seems to refer precisely to a Psalm: Psalm 48 that says: Sing praises to our God, sing praises to our King: For God is the King of all the earth, sing wisely.
About the fact that we have to sing to proclaim the glory of God, it is pretty obvious and it is certainly the only thing all the Christians of all denominations agree, except some "traditional" Catholics in the United States of America! But not singing is certainly not the tradition, and I would dare to say, it is even a kind of resistance to the grace of God. Saint Paul relates the fact of being filled with the Holy Spirit and singing and making melody. One causes the other. Because you are filled with the Holy Spirit, as a result, you sing to the Lord. Singing is also a spontaneous way of giving thanks to God, as we see when God has delivered David out of his enemies in the second book of Samuel: the entire chapter 22 is a tribute to God, and after recalling all His works, David said: Therefore will I give thanks to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy name.
Psalm 22 also says: I will declare thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the church will I praise thee. It happens that these two quotes from King David are applied to Our Lord in 1 Co 15,9 and Hb 2,12. The Apostles and disciples have seen and heard Our Lord sing the Psalms. And it is Him who teaches us how to sing wisely with the understanding.

Singing is one thing. Singing wisely with the understanding is another thing. All the Christians of all the denominations – except some “traditional” Catholics in the United States of America – sing, but they certainly don’t sing wisely with the understanding. Apparently there were some charismatic brethren in Corinth and Saint Paul had to bring them back on the right way. It is at this occasion that he said: What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, I will pray also with the understanding, I will sing with the spirit, I will sing also with the understanding.

Singing wisely with the understanding is after all not difficult. You just have to follow the rules of the Church, Mater et Magistra, who tells her children how to pray. It is with humility that we should receive her teaching, knowing that whatever we can think or imagine is certainly not better than what she teaches. The Liturgy is precisely one area – among others – where we can easily put into practice the “sentire cum Ecclesia” of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Many times, the Church has called the faithful to sing. As Pope Benedict XVI recalled last year during his journey in France, Christian worship is an invitation to sing with the angels, and thus to lead the word to its highest destination.
For Saint Benedict, the words of the Psalm: coram angelis psallam Tibi, Domine – in the presence of the angels, I will sing your praise (cf. 138:1) – are the decisive rule governing the prayer and chant of the monks. – (Saint Benedict wrote his rule for the monks, but what is said about the chant also applies for all the faithful.) What this expresses is the awareness that in communal prayer one is singing in the presence of the entire heavenly court, and is thereby measured according to the very highest standards: that one is praying and singing in such a way as to harmonize with the music of the noble spirits who were considered the originators of the harmony of the cosmos, the music of the spheres. From this perspective one can understand the seriousness of a remark by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who used an expression from the Platonic tradition handed down by Augustine, to pass judgement on the poor singing of monks, which for him was evidently very far from being a mishap of only minor importance. He describes the confusion resulting from a poorly executed chant as a falling into the “zone of dissimilarity” – the regio dissimilitudinis. Augustine had borrowed this phrase from Platonic philosophy, in order to designate his condition prior to conversion (cf. Confessions, VII, 10.16): man, who is created in God’s likeness, falls in his godforsakenness into the “zone of dissimilarity” – into a remoteness from God, in which he no longer reflects him, and so has become dissimilar not only to God, but to himself, to what being human truly is. Bernard is certainly putting it strongly when he uses this phrase, which indicates man’s falling away from himself, to describe bad singing by monks. But it shows how seriously he viewed the matter. It shows that the culture of singing is also the culture of being, and that the monks have to pray and sing in a manner commensurate with the grandeur of the word handed down to them, with its claim on true beauty. This intrinsic requirement of speaking with God and singing of him with words he himself has given, is what gave rise to the great tradition of Western music. It was not a form of private “creativity”, in which the individual leaves a memorial to himself and makes self-representation his essential criterion. Rather it is about vigilantly recognizing with the “ears of the heart” the inner laws of the music of creation, the archetypes of music that the Creator built into his world and into men, and thus discovering music that is worthy of God, and at the same time truly worthy of man, music whose worthiness resounds in purity.

Zone of dissimilarity

Singing wisely with the understanding (The choir and the congregation alternate the Kyrie)

mardi, octobre 06, 2009

Sermon for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

If only we knew the gifts of God! They are so marvelous, so beautiful and so powerful, and yet we do not value them as we should, because we are men of little faith. Among all the gifts of God, there is one that is a priceless treasure as Saint Louis de Montfort says. It is the rosary that Almighty God has given to you because he wants you to use it as a means to convert the most hardened sinners and the most obstinate heretics. He has attached to it grace in this life and glory in the next. The saints have said it faithfully and the Popes have endorsed it.
Blessed Alain de la Roche tells us the story of the origin of the Holy Rosary : Saint Dominic, seeing that the gravity of people's sins was hindering the conversion of the Albigensians, withdrew into a forest near Toulouse, where he prayed continuously for three days and three nights. During this time he did nothing but weep and do harsh penances in order to appease the anger of God. He used his discipline so much that his body was lacerated, and finally he fell into a coma.
At this point our Lady appeared to him, accompanied by three angels, and she said, "Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?"
"Oh, my Lady," answered Saint Dominic, "you know far better than I do, because next to your Son Jesus Christ you have always been the chief instrument of our salvation."
Then our Lady replied, "I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the principal weapon has always been the Angelic Psalter, which is the foundation-stone of the New Testament. Therefore, if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter."

So he arose, comforted, and burning with zeal for the conversion of the people in that district, he made straight for the cathedral. At once unseen angels rang the bells to gather the people together, and Saint Dominic began to preach.
At the very beginning of his sermon, an appalling storm broke out, the earth shook, the sun was darkened, and there was so much thunder and lightning that all were very much afraid. Even greater was their fear when, looking at a picture of our Lady exposed in a prominent place, they saw her raise her arms to heaven three times to call down God's vengeance upon them if they failed to be converted, to amend their lives, and seek the protection of the holy Mother of God.
God wished, by means of these supernatural phenomena, to spread the new devotion of the holy Rosary and to make it more widely known.
At last, at the prayer of Saint Dominic, the storm came to an end, and he went on preaching. So fervently and compellingly did he explain the importance and value of the Rosary that almost all the people of Toulouse embraced it and renounced their false beliefs. In a very short time a great improvement was seen in the town; people began leading Christian lives and gave up their former bad habits.
In 1917, Our Lady asked the children of Fatima to say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war. How powerful is this prayer when it is offered with the right intention and a good disposition of heart! It has defeated the Muslims at the battle of Lepanto on October 7th 1571. It can defeat many more enemies today if we say it well. Pope Leo XIII, who wrote eleven encyclical letters on the rosary, says that the three sets of mysteries, joyful, sorrowful and glorious correspond to three evils that are commonly spread among men: distaste for the sanctification of daily duty of state, aversion for suffering and oblivion of the future joy of the eternity. (Explain how the rosary can make us overcome these evils)
You see, we can conquer the world with the rosary – there is no doubt about that. But how can we conquer the world for Christ if we even did not conquer ourselves first? Many Christians want to reform the world, the societies, the national and international organizations that bring a culture of death as Pope John Paul II often said. Blessed are them for this. But many forgot that they are to reform themselves first. A militant Catholicism would never success without a spirit of sacrifice and renouncement and a true spirit of prayer. It is precisely what the daily meditation of the rosary can give.
Those who have followed the spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius know what it is about. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a valiant Spaniard Knight wanted to conquer the world to Christ. The purpose of his exercises, inspired by Our Lady, is the conquest of self and the regulation of one’s life. The call for a temporal King comes only after the exercitants have reformed themselves.
We have to pray the rosary with the right intention and a good disposition of heart. The angel of Portugal told the children of Fatima: Pray! Pray very much! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs for you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High... In every way you can offer sacrifice to God in reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners... Above all, accept and endure with submission the sufferings which the Lord will send you. Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by sinful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.
Right intention and good disposition: importance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, daily communion, spirit of sacrifice and of reparation (First Fridays and Saturdays) : Devotion to the Eucharist and devotion to Our Lady are united and supposes each other.
Our Lady: Here you see hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart... Pray, pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners. So many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray and sacrifice for them.
The daily prayer of the Rosary is a sacrifice. Let us offer it with generosity.

mardi, août 18, 2009

Cantate Domino canticum novum

Sermon for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost
Deus in loco sancto suo – God in His holy place! Today’s Mass begins with this joyful acclamation that is well interpreted by the fifth Gregorian mode of the Introit. For memory, there are eight modes in Gregorian chant and each one usually expresses a feeling, a sentiment or an attitude of soul.
The first mode is often called ‘gravis’ as it is a mode of gravity that brings an impression of solidity and of stability. The second mode is ‘tristis’. It expresses sorrow and melancholy. We have a very good example with the Graduale and the Offertory of the Requiem Mass. The third mode is ‘mysticus’ as it expresses mysticism and contemplation. The fourth mode is ‘harmonicus’ and evokes interior prayer when the soul reaches a certain harmony and concord with God. The fifth mode, as we said, expresses joy and is the ‘Laetus’ mode.
The sixth mode is ‘devotus.’ This is the mode of the simple and ingenuous prayer of the children and God marked by simplicity and joy. Today’s antiphon of communion is a good example: Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first of all thy fruits: and thy barns shall be filled with abundance, and thy presses shall run over with wine.
The seventh mode is ‘angelicus’. It is a mode of brightness and of keenness, in the image of the angels. The famous Introit of Christmas, Puer natus est, is a perfect example with its melodic flights toward the high notes sol – re. And the eight and last mode is ‘perfectus’. It is called perfectus – perfect, certainly because it is the eighth, number of perfection and number of Christ. Eight signifies achievement and fullness, which are well expressed by the eighth mode. It is a very solemn mode that expresses respect, certainty and majesty.
The eight modes offer us a palette of chant that allows us to sing a new canticle to God as the Scriptures invite us often: cantate Domino canticum novum –sing to the Lord a new song! When we sing to God, especially with Gregorian chant, we pray and we communicate with Him. And we pray as human persons with feelings and emotions, with our body, with our mouth – semper laus ejus in ore meo, Psalm 33 says: His prays shall ever be in my mouth –and with our soul.
The idea that there is a connection between the states of soul and the musical expression is not new. Plato had already well explained this fact. The Greek philosophers used to speak about “Ethos” to describe the moral aspect of music. The aestheticism comes from there. In Greek it means to feel.
Gregorian chant is very human as it is sung by men and it expresses our human feelings. It is also very divine, as it is certainly inspired by the Holy Spirit – the Pneuma or Breath of God. The word ‘neume’,that is the word for the Gregorian notes, comes from there. The Gregorian chant is a breath that comes from God and returns to God. In Gregorian chant, we find this descendant and ascendant movements, - the ladder of Jacob - that is precisely expressed by the Introit Puer Natus est. God descend on earth and men are raised to heaven. The crossroad is Our Lord, the Pontiff, the Bridge between earth and heaven. In Christ, earth and heaven meet, which is also expressed by the number eight with its two circles that are linked: the above circle that is heaven and the below circle that is earth.
Because it is human and divine, the Gregorian chant is our chant, the proper chant of the Catholic Church as the second Vatican Council reminded us. It cannot be and should not be a piece of museum, but the noblest and highest expression of our faith and of our prayers to God. It cannot be simply heard but it must be sung by the faithful during Mass, or even at home during family prayers. Singing is the expression of our love and as such we should not only sing it but rather live it. For many decades, the Church has expressed her desired that Gregorian chant must be restored where it has been lost or abandoned. And this should not be the only concern of the priests or of the monks but of every member of the Church. It is the patrimony that we have received and that we have to deliver to the next generation. Let everybody open his soul and his heart to God and sing a new canticle to the Lord for His glory and the edification of His Church.

lundi, août 03, 2009

Sermon for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost

It is quite touching to see in today’s gospel Our Lord who weeps. It reminds us that our religion is the religion of the heart, and if sometimes it happens that we intellectualize it too much – the too much would be the excess and not the fact that we intellectualize – it is good for us to look at Our Lord and to consider his human nature, his emotions and his feelings. It shows how much God loves us and that he wants our Salvation. As Saint Cyril explains, the tears of Jesus are the visible proof that God sincerely desires our salvation.
Our Lord weeps over Jerusalem. Would you remain unemotional when thinking about this? Would your heart remain untouched? Would you not weep with your Savior over Jerusalem? But what is Jerusalem? Jerusalem is the City of Peace according to the Assyrian etymology of the name. City of Peace? It is what she is supposed to be. But she denied her vocation and ignored it. If thou also hadst known, and that in this day, the things that are to thy peace: but now they are hidden from thy eyes.
We read in the second book of Samuel that David took the castle of Sion and dwelt in the castle, and called it, the city of David. The Ark of the Covenant would be brought to the city soon he would become the glory of Jerusalem and the joy of Israel, title given to Judith and then to Our Lady, the Ark of the New Covenant. But the strength and the peace of the Holy City would be threatened. The Kings of Syria and of Israel marched against her. They could not prevail over her but they shook the faith of the King Achaz. It is at this time that God sent the prophet Isaiah who gave this great prophecy: Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel. The story of Jerusalem tells us about the infidelity of men and the care of God that sends His prophets to revive her faith and her love. Jerusalem, Jerusalem convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum! – Jerusalem, Jerusalem, be converted to the Lord thy God!

We know the rest of the story from the captivity to the Roman domination at the time when the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled. Christ, the Son of David, the Great Prophet would suffer and would die in Jerusalem. But before His Passion, He made this terrible prophecy: For the days shall come upon thee: and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee and compass thee round and straiten thee on every side, And beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee. And they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.

The day of the Passover of the year 70, Titus, son of the Roman Emperor Vespasian began the siege of Jerusalem with four Legions. After 143 days, the City fell and the prophecy of Our Lord fulfilled. Flavius Joseph reports in The Jewish War that Titus would have said: It is not I who have conquered. God, in His wrath against the Jews, has made use of my arm.

These historical events certainly are a moral teaching for us. First, they may help us to realize that beyond the History of men that unfolds in our time, there is something greater that happens. This fact has been well explained by Saint Augustine in the City of God, one of the most remarkable writing of all times. There is a Providence and God rules the world and its event, even though His Providence does not suppress our liberty. It is certainly a mystery, but precisely because it is a mystery it is worthy to think about in order to invigorate our faith, our hope and our love. Ultimately, what truly matters is to be in the right and good side, in the City of God, whatever are the historical conditions in which we live.

The other thing that we should consider is that Jerusalem is a figure of our soul. Origen says that the Savior weeps over Jerusalem, which is our soul. Our soul is supposed to be a city of peace, the interior city of the peace that God encourages us to seek in Psalm 33: seek after peace and pursue it. You can read this Psalm and make the comparison between your soul and the city of Jerusalem. I sought the Lord, and he heard me; and he delivered me from all my troubles. (verse 5) But the countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil things: to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. (verse 11)

The Temple of Jerusalem has been destroyed. Now we have a new temple where we can worship in truth and spirit, and this is the temple of our soul. In the general audience of January 7th of this year, Pope Benedict XVI reminded the importance of this true worship in Spirit and quoted the words of the Prophet Daniel said when the Temple was destroyed:
Neither is there at this time prince, or leader, or prophet, or holocaust, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place of first fruits before thee, That we may find thy mercy: nevertheless, in a contrite heart and humble spirit let us be accepted.
As in holocausts of rams, and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be made in thy sight this day, that it may please thee: for there is no confusion to them that trust in thee.
And now we follow thee with all our heart, and we fear thee, and seek thy face. Put us not to confusion, but deal with us according to thy meekness, and according to the multitude of thy mercies.
And deliver us, according to thy wonderful works, and give glory to thy name, O Lord: And let all them be confounded that show evils to thy servants, let them be confounded in all thy might, and let their strength be broken: And let them know that thou art the Lord, the only God, and glorious over all the world.

Today, we live in a kind of same situation and in a time of desolation, but what truly matters is finally to be worshipers in truth and spirit. The enemies of God will be confounded, but we, if we remain faithful will find the consolations of God. They can destroy our churches of stones; they will never be able to destroy the interior temple of our soul. There is only one person that can destroy it: it is yourself!
The great lesson of today is simply to recognize the time of the visitation of God by accepting all His graces. May Our Blessed Mother help us!

jeudi, juillet 30, 2009

Matrimony 3

The Great Sacrament
Saint Paul: "This is a great sacrament." (Eph 5,32)

Tertullian: “How can I ever express the happiness of the marriage that is joined together by the Church strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels and ratified by the Father? ...How wonderful the bond between two believers with a single hope, a single desire, a single observance, a single service! They are both brethren and both fellow-servants; there is no separation between them in spirit or flesh; in fact they are truly two in one flesh and where the flesh is one, one is the spirit.”

Our Lord raised Matrimony to the rank of a Sacrament.

The theologians of the Middle-Ages have distinguished three things in the Sacraments:
- Sacramentum tantum - the sacramental sign: The consecrated material sign taken in the context of a form or rite but not itself caused or signified in the rite and not remaining permanently in the subject following completion of the rite ( except perhaps in marriage with the rings). The water in Baptism and the consecrated bread and wine would be good examples of this element
- Sacramentum et res - the sacramental reality: The symbolic reality or mystery whose presence is caused or signified by the Sacramentum Tantum and also signifies and causes the res tantum. This element remains in the subject permanently in the indelible Sacraments. In Baptism this would be the initiating seal of The Holy Spirit, and in The Eucharist this would be The Real Presence.

- res tantum - the reality that the sacrament pointed to: The inward and spiritual grace which is signified and caused by the res et Sacramentum but does not itself signify or cause.

In the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, the sacramental sign is the exchange of the consents.
The sacramental reality is the bond that unites the spouses.
The res tantum is the production of the grace and the union of Christ with the Church. This union is signified by the union between the spouses but obviously not created by it.

For two Christians who marry together, Matrimony is and can only be sacramental.
John Paul II: “He reveals the original truth of marriage, the truth of the "beginning," and, freeing man from his hardness of heart, He makes man capable of realizing this truth in its entirety.
This revelation reaches its definitive fullness in the gift of love which the Word of God makes to humanity in assuming a human nature, and in the sacrifice which Jesus Christ makes of Himself on the Cross for His bride, the Church. In this sacrifice there is entirely revealed that plan which God has imprinted on the humanity of man and woman since their creation; the marriage of baptized persons thus becomes a real symbol of that new and eternal covenant sanctioned in the blood of Christ. The Spirit which the Lord pours forth gives a new heart, and renders man and woman capable of loving one another as Christ has loved us. Conjugal love reaches that fullness to which it is interiorly ordained, conjugal charity, which is the proper and specific way in which the spouses participate in and are called to live the very charity of Christ who gave Himself on the Cross.
Indeed, by means of baptism, man and woman are definitively placed within the new and eternal covenant, in the spousal covenant of Christ with the Church. And it is because of this indestructible insertion that the intimate community of conjugal life and love, founded by the Creator, is elevated and assumed into the spousal charity of Christ, sustained and enriched by His redeeming power

The Sacramental character is the third blessings of Matrimony described by St Augustine – the first one is the offspring and the second is fidelity. St Augustine says: “Sacrament signifies that the bond of wedlock shall never be broken, and that neither party, if separated shall form a union with another, even for the sake of offspring.” We have seen that even a natural marriage is indissoluble. The sacramental dimension of Matrimony does not change its nature but reinforces the bond of unity. It gives the spouses the grace in order to be faithful and united together until death.

John Paul II: “By virtue of the sacramentality of their marriage, spouses are bound to one another in the most profoundly indissoluble manner. Their belonging to each other is the real representation, by means of the sacramental sign, of the very relationship of Christ with the Church.”

Pius XI: “If we wish with all reverence to inquire into the intimate reason of this divine decree, Venerable Brethren, we shall easily see it in the mystical signification of Christian marriage which is fully and perfectly verified in consummated marriage between Christians. For, as the Apostle says in his Epistle to the Ephesians the marriage of Christians recalls that most perfect union which exists between Christ and the Church: " This is a great sacrament: but I speak in Christ and in the church." which union, as long as Christ shall live and the Church through Him, can never be dissolved by any separation. And this St. Augustine clearly declares in these words: "This is safeguarded in Christ and the Church, which, living with Christ who lives for ever may never be divorced from Him. The observance of this sacrament is such in the City of God . . . that is, in the Church of Christ, that when for the sake of begetting children, women marry or are taken to wife, it is wrong to leave a wife that is sterile in order to take another by whom children may be hand. Anyone doing this is guilty of adultery, just as if he married another, guilty not by the law of the day, according to which when one's partner is put away another may be taken, which the Lord allowed in the law of Moses because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of Israel; but by the law of the Gospel."

It is only by considering the sacramental dimension of Matrimony that we can understand the verses of Saint Paul: "Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ: so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things." This has nothing to do with certain social conventions and customs of the time of Saint Paul or with his supposedly misogyny as some feminist or modernist would believe, but it lies in the very essence of the Sacrament of matrimony. It would not be a sign of the union of Christ and the Church is the wife would not be submit to her husband, as well as if the husband would not love his wife as Christ loves the Church.

There are moral and juridical consequences that we shall see later.

Let us say also that as a Sacrament, Matrimony is ordained to the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It is also a Sacrament that is for the benefit of the common good: the human society on earth and ultimately the people of God and the elect in heaven.

mercredi, juillet 29, 2009

Matrimony 2

Dogmatic Part: Definition - Nature
CCC 1601: The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.

CCT: Matrimony, according to the general opinion of theologians, is defined: The conjugal union of man and woman, contracted between two qualified persons, which obliges them to live together throughout life.

It is a conjugal union. Jugum in Latin means yoke. By this union the spouses are yoked, joined together. It is a contract, a pact between a man and a woman that is different than any other contracts. Saint Augustine in his treatise on Matrimony De bono Conjugali – The Good of marriage says that the union of the man of the woman is the first natural bond of human society. Then he adds that another bond is formed by the children with is a worthy fruit of the sexual intercourse between the spouses.
This is established in our nature by the Creator as it is expressed in the narrative of the Creation as Saint Augustine points it out: Nor did God create these each by himself, and join them together as alien by birth: but He created the one out of the other, setting a sign also of the power of the union in the side, whence she was drawn, was formed.

First narrative (Gn1): "And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it."

Second narrative (Gn2): "And the Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself.

Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam: and when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it. And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman: and brought her to Adam. And Adam said: This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh."

In his commentary on Genesis, Saint Augustine explains that it is for the reproduction of human species that the woman was given to man. This is expressed by the Commandment of God given to Adam and Eve right after their creation: Male and female He created them. Then He blessed them and said: Increase and multiply.
Motherhood is in the very nature of woman and finds its perfect realization in the Divine motherhood of Our Lady. We shall speak about this later.

Divine institution
The Church has always proclaimed this truth: marriage has been instituted by God Himself even in its original state of nature. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting the Council says: The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by Him with its own proper laws… God Himself is the author of marriage. (CCC 1603)

God has given authority to men in order to subdue the earth. It is a sign of his dignity and a call to collaborate with the Creator to the work of creation. But men cannot change the nature of things. Attempting this means desiring to be like God. Here is the sin of the creatures who want to be like the Creator. Regarding marriage men cannot change its very nature.

Casti Connubii: And to begin with that same Encyclical, which is wholly concerned in vindicating the divine institution of matrimony, its sacramental dignity, and its perpetual stability, let it be repeated as an immutable and inviolable fundamental doctrine that matrimony was not instituted or restored by man but by God; not by man were the laws made to strengthen and confirm and elevate it but by God, the Author of nature, and by Christ Our Lord by Whom nature was redeemed, and hence these laws cannot be subject to any human decrees or to any contrary pact even of the spouses themselves. This is the doctrine of Holy Scripture this is the constant tradition of the Universal Church; this the solemn definition of the sacred Council of Trent, which declares and establishes from the words of Holy Writ itself that God is the Author of the perpetual stability of the marriage bond, its unity and its firmness.

Ends of marriage
- Procreation and education of children: Thus amongst the blessings of marriage, the child holds the first place. And indeed the Creator of the human race Himself, Who in His goodness wishes to use men as His helpers in the propagation of life, taught this when, instituting marriage in Paradise, He said to our first parents, and through them to all future spouses: "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth." As St. Augustine admirably deduces from the words of the holy Apostle Saint Paul to Timothy when he says: "The Apostle himself is therefore a witness that marriage is for the sake of generation: 'I wish,' he says, 'young girls to marry.' And, as if someone said to him, 'Why?,' he immediately adds: 'To bear children, to be mothers of families'." (Casti Connubii.. cf 1 Tim 5,14)

- Mutual assistance and quieting of concupiscence:
CCT: We have now to explain why man and woman should be joined in marriage. First of all, nature itself by an instinct implanted in both sexes impels them to such companionship, and this is further encouraged by the hope of mutual assistance in bearing more easily the discomforts of life and the infirmities of old age.
A second reason for marriage is the desire of family, not so much, however, with a view to leave after us heirs to inherit our property and fortune, as to bring up children in the true faith and in the service of God. That such was the principal object of the holy Patriarchs when they married is clear from Scripture. Hence the Angel, when informing Tobias of the means of repelling the violent assaults of the evil demon, says: I will show thee who they are over whom the devil can prevail; for they who in such manner receive matrimony as to shut out God from themselves and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power. He then adds: Thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham thou mayest obtain a blessing in children. It was also for this reason that God instituted marriage from the beginning; and therefore married persons who, to prevent conception or procure abortion, have recourse to medicine, are guilty of a most heinous crime ­­ nothing less than wicked conspiracy to commit murder.
A third reason has been added, as a consequence of the fall of our first parents. On account of the loss of original innocence the passions began to rise in rebellion against right reason; and man, conscious of his own frailty and unwilling to fight the battles of the flesh, is supplied by marriage with an antidote by which to avoid sins of lust. For fear of fornication, says the Apostle, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband; and a little after, having recommended to married persons a temporary abstinence from the marriage debt, to give themselves to prayer, he adds: Return together again, lest Satan tempt you for your incontinency. (Cf 1 Co 7,9: But if they do not contain themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to be burnt.)
These are ends, some one of which, those who desire to contract marriage piously and religiously, as becomes the children of the Saints, should propose to themselves. If to these we add other causes which induce to contract marriage, and, in choosing a wife, to prefer one person to another, such as the desire of leaving an heir, wealth, beauty, illustrious descent, congeniality of disposition ­­ such motives, because not inconsistent with the holiness of marriage, are not to be condemned. We do not find that the Sacred Scriptures condemn the Patriarch Jacob for having chosen Rachel for her beauty, in preference to Lia.

Properties of marriage: Indissolubility and unity
CCC 1644 The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life: "so they are no longer two, but one flesh." They "are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving." This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.

CCC 1645 The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection." Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive.

mardi, juillet 28, 2009

Matrimony 1

This post and those that will follow are the framework of the Recollection on the Sacrament of Matrimony given at Cherokee Village in July 2009.
In 1930, Pope Pius XI gave the Church an encyclical letter on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. This is an important text on this topic as it is a magisterial document that teaches the faithful on such an important subject. The Pope began by recalling the dignity of Matrimony, but right after he expressed his sorrow for “a great number of men, forgetful of that divine work of redemption, either entirely ignore or shamelessly deny the great sanctity of Christian wedlock, or relying on the false principles of a new and utterly perverse morality, too often trample it under foot. And since these most pernicious errors and depraved morals have begun to spread even amongst the faithful and are gradually gaining ground, in Our office as Christ's Vicar upon earth and Supreme Shepherd and Teacher We consider it Our duty to raise Our voice to keep the flock committed to Our care from poisoned pastures and, as far as in Us lies, to preserve it from harm.”(Casti Connubii)
In spite of the great renewal promised with the Council of the Vatican, we can notice that today the situation is certainly worst that in 1930. Religious ignorance is wildly spread among the people of God and is more devastating than ever. It is the greatest enemy of faith and consequently of life – the supernal and divine life of God in our souls and even natural life. The Sacrament of Matrimony establishes the spouse in a state of life that is the most common state of life in the Church. Yet, the truth about Matrimony is ignored by a great majority of the faithful who come to the church for their wedding with a vague notion of its nature, of its dignity and of the rights and obligations of the spouses. Many chose this state of life only because of a natural love for their spouse. It is certainly not a bad motive, but it cannot be sufficient in order to establish a stable state of life whose purpose is first to gain eternal life. According to the Principle and foundation given by Saint Ignatius of Loyola - Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul – one should carefully chose only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created. In other words, one should not chose the state of marriage only because he fell in love with someone but first because of a moral certitude that it is the way wanted by God for his eternal salvation.
The danger of founding a marriage only on a natural love is that if this natural love fades or vanishes – and this can happen with time – is that the temptation of divorcing is great. Unfortunately many Catholics couples come to a divorce. Imbued with the spirit of the world they come to this conclusion that the world considers as wise and good but that is in fact is totally opposed to the will of God: “Well, obviously we love each other no longer. It is better for each of us to separate and to continue our lives on our own separated ways.”
Another sign of the crisis of marriage is the great number of annulments that we can see nowadays. An annulment is a legal procedure of the Church for declaring a marriage null and void. It is a statement from a competent authority that states that a marriage has never existed. It was null and void from the very beginning. This can happen and the Church has always contemplated this possibility. But the Church can only make a statement and declare if this marriage is valid or not. In any case, she can make a valid marriage null. A famous and sad example is given by Henry VIII, king of England. If the Church could make a marriage null, she would have accepted the case of Henry VIII in order to avoid a schism. But this was impossible simply because “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mc 10,9)

Annulments are possible, yet there is an abuse of this practice today. Pope Benedict XVI in an address to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota in January 2009, deplored and condemned this abuse. “One can still perceive the urgent need to which my venerable Predecessor pointed: that of preserving the ecclesial community "from the scandal of seeing the value of Christian marriage being destroyed in practice by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity, in cases of the failure of marriage, on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties” (Quote from the Address to the Roman Rota, 5 February 1987 by John Paul II)
Benedict XVI, and already John Paul II before him, gave some remedies against this abuse.
"In this regard it is helpful to recall several clear-cut distinctions. First of all, the distinction between "the psychic maturity which is seen as the goal of human development" and, on the other hand, "the canonical maturity which is the basic minimum required for establishing the validity of marriage" (Address to the Roman Rota, 5 February 1987, n. 6). Second, the distinction between incapacity and difficulty, inasmuch as "incapacity alone, and not difficulty in giving consent and in realizing a true community of life and love, invalidates a marriage" (ibid., n. 7). Third, the distinction between the canonical approach to normality, which, based on an integral vision of the human person, "also includes moderate forms of psychological difficulty", and the clinical approach, which excludes from the concept of normality every limitation of maturity and "every form of psychic illness" (Address to the Roman Rota, 25 January 1988, n. 5). And finally, the distinction between the "minimum capacity sufficient for valid consent" and the ideal capacity "of full maturity in relation to happy married life"
Basically, what the Popes say is that difficulties in living the state or marriage do not make the marriage null. Difficulty does not mean incapacity and cases of incapacity are rare. Benedict XVI says: “there is a need for a new and positive appreciation of the capacity to marry belonging in principle to every human person by virtue of his or her very nature as a man or a woman. We tend in fact to risk falling into a kind of anthropological pessimism which, in the light of today’s cultural context, would consider marriage as practically impossible. Apart from the fact that this context is not uniform in the various parts of the world, genuine incapacity to consent cannot be confused with the real difficulties facing many people, especially the young, which lead them to conclude that marital union is, as a rule, inconceivable and impracticable. Rather, a reaffirmation of the innate human capacity for marriage is itself the starting point for enabling couples to discover the natural reality of marriage and its importance for salvation.”
Man and woman have a natural capacity to marry, because it is in our human nature. Sometimes there are exceptions, accidents, but they are rare. In order to understand well the nature of marriage, it is important to understand the human nature. Now, Matrimony is also for the baptized people a Sacrament. In order to understand it, we have to understand the plan of God for mankind, what we call the Economy of Salvation.

mercredi, juillet 22, 2009

Saint Mary Magdalene and Provence

Excerpt from the work of Father Henri Lacordaire, O.P.
"Sainte Marie-Madeleine"

Jesus is no longer of this world in visible form. He has left the Apostles, his Mother, his personal friends, but in providing to each of them a life and a death that He had predestined. St. Peter dies in Rome the same mode of death as his Master; all of the Apostles confirm their faith by martyrdom. St. John, himself, is not entirely spared; he suffers in Rome, in front of the Latin Gate, a painful process of torture, and only escapes death by conserving the glory of a willing martyrdom. However, it is clear that the Saviour watches over him with the memory of the special affection he bore him; escaping from the ordeal by a miracle, and from exile by the overthrow of a hated tyrant, he prolongs his days into an old age which attracts the attention of the entire Church, and which allows him to render to the divinity of Jesus Christ, in the last and most sublime of the Gospels, an irrefutable testimony. He belongs to him also, by a privilege unique in the New Testament, to see prophetically the future of the Church, and he dictates the revelation under a form which will enlighten one day and fortify, in their tribulation, in the Elect of the end of time. He dies after that, wrapped in peace and only knowing how to repeat to Christians these words fallen from the mouth of Jesus Christ: "My children, love one another."

The Mother of Jesus does not survive by so many years the Resurrection and the Ascension of her beloved Son. She feels herself borne towards Him by an aspiration that unbinds in the depths of her soul everything which held it captive, and from his tomb, visited by him, she mounts to the throne from where she reigns for ever over the angels and over mankind saved by the fruit of her womb.

The Sainte-Baume Mountain

Like the Mother of God and like St. John, Mary Magdalene will not finish her days by martyrdom. She will also live in the tranquil benediction of her love. She will live at the feet of the vanished Christ, as she lived in Bethany and in Calvary, a lover accustomed to the delights of contemplation, and having no other need but to look with her soul at the One whom she looked upon in other times through the transparent veil of mortal flesh. But what famous or obscure havens will have been prepared for her? Where will she hide the blessed remainder of her existence? Are they to be the deserts of the East, the river banks of the Jordan, Mt. Sion, the field after the harvest of Nazareth or of Bethlehem, which will be the last witnesses of her inaccessible charity? Jesus Christ bequeathed his Mother to Jerusalem, St. Peter to Rome, St. John to Asia --- to whom will he have bequeathed Mary Magdalene?

We know already, it is France who received from the hands of God this part of the Testament of His Son. Tradition, history, the monuments tell it to us clearly, and Providence has taken care to give to their testimony an invincible clarity. One cannot bring one's feet down on the soil of Provence without encountering at each step the memory of St. Mary Magdalene. Everywhere present, she does not live there under the form of an isolated accident; she is linked to the soil by the fact which holds the first place in the history of all Christian people, by the great events of their conversion and nothing doubtless ought to have perpetuated more obstinately in the memory of a race and of a country, than this change brought to its beliefs and customs by a new cult, proscribed, and triumphant by dint of its own virtue. In addition, there is no Christian nation which has not kept the memory of its first Apostles, which has not honored their tombs, built churches in their name, invoked their help, and which does not laugh at the vain reasonings of a blind science against this popular and all-powerful tradition. Provence was not a barbarous grouping of an insignificant people when Christianity appeared there; it was since more than a century a Roman province. It had received from its masters all the culture of Rome, and from its origin all that of Greece. It was connected by Marseilles to all the seaports of the Mediterranean, and untiring vessels conveyed to it from then on the tribute of the furthest shores. When, then, the first sound of the Gospels struck its ears, it could not be in error about those who were bringing to it from the East this great revelation. It knew them, judged them, and, converted by them to the new law, their names were sacred to them as no name had been for them until that moment. Who could doubt it? Who does not see that a people, above all when it is a question of its religion, has a more reliable memory than that of a man, and that age, instead of altering it, renews it without ceasing? That which is engraved on the altar by worship and in the heart by prayer, lasts longer than marble and than bronze, and the kings who have only history to live by have assuredly less than the soul of generations gives to their apostles.

From whom then does Provence date its faith? To whom does it give thanks, after nineteen centuries, for having received, on the day after the proclamation of the Gospels, a ray of the light that had just risen over the deep shadows of humankind? It gives thanks to this illustrious family of Bethany which had had Jesus Christ as a guest and as friend to Lazarus, to Martha, to Mary Magdalene and to their companions Trophime and Maximin. These are the names that the sons have learned from their fathers, and which the fathers have received from the knowledge of their ancestors. Marseilles wishes that St. Lazarus had been its first bishop; Aix attributes this glory to St. Maximin, Arles to St. Trophime; Avignon and Tarascon name St. Martha as the apostle who delivered them from error; and St. Mary Magdalene, united to all by a memory which is supported by this which goes beyond it, hovers over the whole Church of Provence, like the sovereign of the apostolate which established it.

The monuments respond to the acclamation of the centuries. It is in vain that the barbarians have covered Provence with their fleets; it is in vain that, renewing their ferocity once it was appeased, the Saracens have added to the ruins already there long and terrible scimitar blows: those ruins, already consummated twice, have not been able to prevail against the monuments that the people and Providence have destined to perpetuate the memory of the holy founder of the Church of Provence. Marseilles still sees, in the cavern of the ancient abbey of St. Victor, the crypt where there assembled under St. Lazarus the first Christians which it had formed for God, and where rested the very body of its first bishop, right up to the day when he was plucked away from the ravages of the followers of Islam by a translation with which the Church of Autun was endowed. Tarascon venerates the tomb where the relics of St. Martha are enclosed, where it keeps them still, and of which the mark, stronger than time, enables the pilgrim to recognize, despite its mutilation, the very living scene of the resurrection of Lazarus. Two other tombs, still more famous, two tombs reunited in the same crypt by a fraternal piety, recall to the traveler that St. Magdalene lay there opposite St. Maximin, and the name even of St. Maximin, given to the spot when this double and unique burial took place, testified to the impression which it produced in the people -- an impression that has never been extinguished. It is there that St. Mary Magdalene ended her pilgrimage; it is there that St. Maximin buried her in an alabaster sepulchre, in memory of that other alabaster where the saint had twice enclosed the ointment with which she anointed the Savior; it is there that St.Maximin himself wanted his mortal remains to be deposited, beside those other remains so dear to his heart, to Jesus Christ, to the angels, and to mankind and where they came in quest of it -- a veneration that will soon be twenty centuries old.

The tomb of St. Maximin stands for the apostolic mission that was given to him by Jesus Christ. That of St. Magdalene retains the trace of the various characteristics of the life of the Son of God, and on a frieze that the piety of the faithful has more than mutilated, one could see at one time, according to venerable and reliable testimonies, the ointment that she poured on her beloved Master.
All of these tombs, linked together by the divine relationships of Time, of people and of sanctity, convey the impression of the first period of Christianity. One recognizes first of all the Roman form, and this unusual mixture of Christian subjects with the symbols of idolatry, that was familiar to this epoch. There is no archaeologist who has not been struck by it, and the avowals of the least credulous have confirmed people in the respect they attach to these old and faithful witnesses.

They are not the only ones. The liturgy of a multitude of churches is in accord with them and with the tradition, and finally history itself, supporting tradition, the monuments and the liturgy, has put the seal of a final demonstration on all these certainties. For a long time it was believed that the pen of no classical writer had touched upon the life of St. Mary Magdalene and engraved the important events of her life into the solid block of history. Against the belief of people through the ages, the mute language of marble, the feasts and lessons of the Church, the chain of all this proof -- was opposed the primitive and continuous silence of human writings. It was asked where was the history of St. Magdalene and if before the 11th or 12th century there had been found in the libraries of Europe any trace of a biography consecrated to a woman who ought so naturally to have seduced the heart and to have inspired the genius of saints. At Oxford, in one of the 24 colleges of this famous university, a college still dedicated today to St. Mary Magdalene, pious hands have discovered a manuscript bearing the name of Raban-Maur, Archbishop of Mainz at the beginning of the ninth century, and containing the life of St. Martha and of St. Mary Magdalene. The authenticity of this manuscript has been confirmed by the collection of letters that in the archaeological world inspire confidence in the date of the book, its authenticity and its integrity.

We will not enter into these details, which are to be found elsewhere, and we will limit ourselves to saying that Raban-Maur was, in the 9th century, by his knowledge, his piety, his influence, his renown and his dignities, one of the most considerable men of his time. Abbot of Fuld for 20 years, then retired voluntarily, by the resignation of this office, into a deep solitude, then called despite himself to the archbishopric of Mainz, he shines out in his century by everything that can recommend him to posterity, the exactitude and sincerity of a historian. His biography of St. Martha and of St. Mary Magdalene is sober, he follows the Gospels step by step, and when the Gospel vanishes with the ascension of our Savior, he draws on writings that he declares to be ancient and to have been the foundation of his account.
And, moreover, these ancient writings have been rediscovered as have his own; they have been unearthed in the public libraries of Paris: pages all the more precious and venerated in that in comparing them to the history of Raban-Maur, one recognizes them almost word for word. They are of the kind, according to the testimony of the Archbishop of Mainz, that are well before the ninth century, since he calls them ancient, and they are in effect, in their naturalness and their brevity, of the taste of a century that had not yet known, with regard to saints, the vain amplifications of a false rhetoric. They are thought to be of the fifth and sixth centuries, that is to say from an epoch where all the monuments of St. Magdalene's apostolate and of her companions in Provence were still young, where the invasion of the barbarians and that of the Saracens had not yet destroyed the very names of our churches, from which, as a consequence, it had been easy to draw, in order to write them, annals true and certain.

Scenic view from the grotto of Saint Mary Magdelene that she could contemplate every day

It is thus that time, instead of weakening the glory of St. Mary Magdalene, has prepared for her resurrection. What is happening today for the Christian Bible, whose veracity has been confirmed by the same lapse of time, has happened also for the Bible of St. Mary Magdalene. A deeper science has reclothed the tradition in a more vivid light, and, taking up henceforth the life of our dear and illustrious saint at the empty sepulchre of the Savior, we can follow its course in this blessed land of Provence.

Today there is a little Dominican community that takes care of the grotto of Saint Mary Madgelene. Find more information and beautiful pictures on their website:

They come in the clothing of sheep

Sermon for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost
(Without the story of the bottle of wine and the drop of gazoline)
By their fruits you shall know them! With these words Our Lord warns us against the false prophets. They come in the clothing of sheep. We shall not recognize them by their appearances or their looks but by their fruits. It usually takes time before you can see the first fruits of a tree. It is a process that takes several years. So, Our Lord asks us to be patient and to not succumb immediately to the enthusiasm of novelty or to the appeal of extraordinary facts. “I have heard about this priest or this minister, what does he do! He is amazing, and so nice! He is a man of God for sure, he can heal people and he performs miracles.” Then you leave your church and change your habits to follow this new shepherd who will lead you to Christ… until you find another one that you find more attractive.
This kind of behavior is unfortunately not rare in a country where religion has become a business and with its market. Thousands of Christians are simply the victims – more or less consenting – of the false prophets against whom Christ precisely warns us. They come in clothing of sheep. Saint John Chrysostom explains that they are neither the Jews nor the Gentiles, but the heretic Christians who have the clothing, the look of the sheep. The clothing is the appearance of Christianity, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. They pretend to give you God but in fact they devour your soul.
Of course we think first about all the different Christian denominations that are so flourishing in the U.S. especially here in the South. They all look good. After all it can not be a bad thing to speak about Jesus Christ, especially in a corrupted world that returns to secularism and paganism. Many would tell you that it is better to be a Christian, whatever is your denomination, rather than an atheist or a pagan. They would add that there are different ways of worshiping Christ; you just have to find the one that is the best for you, according to your preference, to what you like.
The problem, brethren, is that we do not have – in fact we cannot – choose between two evils. I do not care if it is a better to be a Christian of whatever denominations rather than a pagan, because unless you belong to the true Church founded by Christ, being a Christian is not a good thing. Being a heretic is a very grave sin that leads to hell! Who is not with Christ is against Him. The fact is that all the false religions that pretend to be Christian are in the same side as the atheists and pagans. They are together against the truth.
Until a recent time, this was the clear teaching of the Catholic Church that has always warned and defended her sheep against the wolves. And it is still the teaching of the Church today, because it cannot change. There is no salvation outside the Church. It is a dogma and it will remain a dogma until the end of times. But today, this truth is tainted and dissolved in an insipid soup, because many wolves have put on the clothing of the sheep, and they are within the Catholic Church. They officially belong to the Church of Christ but they do not give the doctrine of Christ.
We recognize a tree by its fruits. What are the fruits of these false prophets? An abandon of the true doctrine and spirit of the Church for a kind of universal humanism! A loss of missionary zeal – if everybody is saved, why would you make some efforts to convert other? A loss of the preaching of the truth for an exaltation of tolerance as if it were the highest virtue! The absolute rule is now to not offend people and to respect their beliefs and behaviors, whatever they are. A loss of spirit of penance and of mortification! A loss of the sense of sin! A loss of the sense of reparation! A loss of the true meaning of the priesthood and of the hierarchical dimension of the Church! A loss of the sense of the sacredness which has for horrible consequence the fact that the churches are now social halls where people spend a lot of time to chat instead of being the sacred temple where we adore with humility the King of Kings hidden in the tabernacle! A loss of many things which are so characteristic of the Catholic Church! Is it the prelude to the great apostasy? It might be, but we shall see.

lundi, juillet 20, 2009

Recollection for married couples

Seeking Christ in the Sacrament of Matrimony

From Monday 27th to Thursday 30th
Lecture each day at noon and 7 pm
Saint Michael's church, Cherokee Village

"This is a great Sacrament" (Ephesians 5,32)

vendredi, juillet 10, 2009

Saint John Bosco Academy

Saint John Bosco Academy is opening soon, in August 2009.

A new Catholic school in Northern Arkansas

"Saint John Bosco Academy is founded by and supported by families who are dedicated to the traditional Mass of the Latin Rite. As such, we place great emphasis on understanding the Catholic customs and traditions which have survived the test of time. The school schedule is based on the liturgical cycle, and academic life revolves around the liturgical calendar and feast days."
Information about Saint John Bosco Academy:

mercredi, juillet 01, 2009

Little thought

Yesterday evening, as I was returning from Mountain Home after Holy Mass, I turned on the radio in my car. Yes, I do not listen only to Baroque music and Corsican Polyphony, things that we do not hear often on the local radios of North Arkansas. Instead, there was a protestant Pastor who spoke on the station – and this happens often on the local radios of North Arkansas. I listened to him, out of curiosity, to know what our separated brothers have to say. In fact it was a commentary of the Our Father and the Pastor said many good things that Catholics can receive. Then he came to the subject of our personal relationships with God and with others. He explained that we must acknowledge a hierarchy in our relations with others. Our relationship with God must be above all other kinds of relations with others. In fact, our relationships towards others must be grounded on our relationship with God, but on the other hand, our relationships with others affect our relationship with God. As Catholics, we can only agree.

Now this Pastor said that as a minister, he follows this order of relationships: first with God; then with his wife and children; finally with his flock – I am not sure of the word he used, but he meant the people he has care in his ministry. So, his family comes right after God and before his ministry. He is right. This is the right order that everyone should follow. So, I thought that this protestant minister, certainly even without thinking about that, gave a very good point for the celibacy of the ministers of Christ. The consecrated celibacy is truly a richness of the Catholic Church. Men and women who have embraced it are signs of the Kingdom of God, as Matrimony is… but in a different manner. Let the priests of Jesus Christ be totally dedicated to their flock. Thanks to this protestant minister for helping us to remember this, even though it was certainly not his intention!

mercredi, juin 10, 2009

Sermon for Trinity Sunday

With this Sunday, begins the time after Pentecost that will lead us toward the end of the liturgical year. We had the opportunity to meditate on two of the great mysteries of Faith, which are the Incarnation, during the Christmas cycle, and the Redemption during the Easter cycle. This new liturgical season begins with the feast of the Blessed Trinity, which is the third great mystery of faith.
Since the beginning of the liturgical year, we have contemplated the works of God in the history of men. Certainly, the moral aspect was still present in the liturgy, especially with the epistles of Saint Paul that we find throughout the liturgical year. The divine interventions of God in our world suppose an answer from men. The Revelation speaks first to our intelligence, but in order to move then our will. The Sundays after Pentecost will help us to answer in a right way by conforming our lives to our faith. We would say that the agenda of this liturgical season can be summarized by the words of Saint Paul: Walk in the spirit! (Ga 5,16) The gift of the spirit has been given to us: it is the gift of Pentecost. Now we have to use it well in order to achieve the will of God that is our sanctification.
We said yesterday evening during our meditation on the Holy Spirit that in order to act well, we have to know first our nature and our condition and to know the principles of spiritual life that unfortunately too many people ignore. The regime of grace in which we live now has its rules and principles that have been well described and commented by the Saints and the Doctors. It is precisely an effect of the Spirit that one lives according to these rules and principles of spiritual life. The progress of your soul depends basically on how you apply them.
The great principle of everything is in fact God himself, and it happens that God is Trinity, which means, as Saint Thomas says, trine-unity. And Saint Athanasius says: Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity is to be revered. It is certainly a great mystery that God is Three Persons, well distinct but truly equal. Yet, the fact that it is a mystery should not dispense us from making the effort of our intelligence that would be a fair answer to the gift of Revelation. And effort means sacrifice. The quest for God is difficult but it is worthwhile and salutary.
Seek God and your soul shall live, Psalm 69 says. But Saint Augustine warns us. It would be rash and dangerous to think that you know God. Our quest for God is never achieved in this present life. This is why the Psalmist adds in Psalm 104: Seek His face evermore. Similarly Saint Paul also says: And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he hath not yet known as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known by him. (1 Co 2-3) There would be a lot to say about this sentence. It is an invitation to humility and to charity. Whatever you know about God is still nothing and can even be dangerous because of a certain pride. It is a usual temptation that when you know, you want to be sure that others know that you know. So Saint Paul, well aware of this danger, invites us to love in order to be known by God. Yet, it is still true that we owe to progress in our knowledge of God. Saint Augustine encourages us by saying: Let us seek with the desire to find, and find with the desire to seek still more. Whatever you know, you still have more to know.
In order to know more about God we can look at ourselves, since we have been created to His image. Saint Augustine says that when I love something, I discovered three things, which are myself, the thing that I love, and love itself. If a soul loves itself, there is a certain identity between the lover and the thing that is loved.. There is a relation between two terms: the soul that loves and love. They are on a relative point of view two different things, but they are united together in one spirit.
Now, in order to love something, you have to know it first. A soul knows itself first and then loves itself. The soul and the knowledge of itself are two different things, but again they are united together in one spirit. So, Saint Augustine says that the soul, its knowledge and its love are three different things but these three things are only one; and when they are perfect, they are equal. Our soul, our intelligence and our will are finally the image of the Blessed Trinity. In God, there is a perfection of knowledge and of love, so there is a equality between the three terms: three things that are only one substance.
It is then in the right comprehension of intelligence and of love that we can apprehend as much as we can the mystery of God. Knowing and loving! Here is the principle of our religious life that is well conformed to our rational nature. Being created in the image of God, with an intelligence and a will, we have to use them in order to return to Him, our principle and our end. If you know God, as He truly is, which is Trinity, then we can love Him. If you love Him, then we are known by Him. We are incorporated into the relations between the Three Divine Person. In other word, we share the Divine intimacy with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. That is the gift of the Divine grace.

lundi, juin 01, 2009

Si scires donum Dei

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday

Si scires donum Dei! If thou didst know the gift of God!

How ignorant are we of the things of God! We are certainly ignorant by nature, because God is a hidden God – Deus absconditus – as Isaiah says. We are ignorant of the things of God because our intelligence is limited while God is infinite. Yet, we know that our end and our perfection is the knowledge of God and we have seen during the past two weeks that only this knowledge can give true happiness. At this point, it appears that our end is not proportionate to our nature. For Saint Thomas Aquinas, this means that there is a certain necessity for a Revelation, and again, when we speak of necessity about God, it is always a relative necessity as God is totally free. The first Council of the Vatican would confirm the teaching of Saint Thomas when it stated that the Revelation is necessary because God has wanted to give men a supernatural end.
So, God is a hidden God, but He also is a revealed God – revelatus Deus. With the Revelation, we have now the knowledge of our end and the knowledge of the means that we must necessarily use in order to reach our end. But God remains hidden even in His Revelation. In fact, as Pascal says, the more God is disclosed, the more obscured God becomes. It is a paradox but it makes sense if you think about this. The Revelation and the Grace, which are both supernatural, do not suppress our nature and its way of operating, but rather elevate and sublimate it. In other words, the Revelation does not exempt us from thinking but rather calls us, encourages us and motivates us to think more. This fact has been well expressed by Saint Anselm with his famous “Fides quaerens intellectum” – Faith seeking understanding. Saint Augustine had already said: “Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”
The Revelation is the unveiling of the mysteries of God, in the meaning that it tells us about the existence of these mysteries. The Revelation is not the explanation of these mysteries. So, when I believe, out of faith, I acknowledge the existence of mysteries, such as the Trinity, the Incarnation or the Eucharist. But when I believe, I also acknowledge that I cannot understand them. God is now revealed to me, and God is still a mystery to me. The more God is disclosed, the more obscured God becomes. For Pascal, the descent of Deus revelatus-absconditus culminates in the Eucharist, which is the last hiding place where God can be, as Father McDade explains. The Faith is the Eucharist is precisely what separates true believers from many other Christians. Pascal writes that the veil of nature which covers God has been pierced by several non-believers, who, as St Paul says, ‘have recognized an invisible God by visible nature’ (Rom 1.20). Heretical Christians have known him through his humanity and adore Jesus Christ, God and man. But to recognize him under the species of bread, that is the distinguishing mark of Catholics alone: we are the only ones whom God enlightens to that extent.
It is not a coincidence if Jesus speaks about the Paraclete that the Father will send in His name during the last Supper when He institutes the Sacrament of the Eucharist. He will teach you all things! All things!
The Holy Ghost is truly the gift of the Father who reveals to us the hidden things about God. It is only with humility and gratitude that we can receive Him. He allows us to accept the mysteries of God and to understand that we cannot understand them. The great temptation would be to rationalize the mysteries and to try to find an explanation to all things. That is precisely the error of our Protestant brothers after Luther, especially on the subject of the Eucharist. When you realize that you cannot understand a thing, you are inclined to deny it.
But be aware, dear Brethren, that it is also a temptation for you, maybe not on the subject of the Eucharist or of any great truth revealed by God and taught by the Church, but about more practical involvements of faith in your daily life. There are laws and rules in the spiritual life that we must know and accept in order to grow in holiness. They have been well explained by the Saints and the Doctors of the Church. They come from the Holy Ghost who teaches us all things. It is also with gratitude and humility that we should receive them and then, put them into practice. Denying them is ignoring the gift of God. Many –and I am speaking now about faithful Catholics – ignore the gift of God, because they are still full of themselves, instead of God. Be renewed in the Spirit, Saint Paul says. We have to accept the work of renovation that the Spirit of God wants to perform in us, and that supposes a total abandon of ourselves. This is mainly the object of our preaching throughout the year, based upon the teaching of the great masters of spiritual life. My desire and my wish is that we finally end by understanding it. If thou didst know the gift of God!
The Church applies the words of the Scripture about Wisdom to Our Blessed Mother. I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. She has a role of educator. She is the beginning of our supernatural education. From her we can learn how to receive the teaching of the Holy Spirit. It is first the teaching of faith, which is an intellectual knowledge. It is also the teaching of a way of living that must be in accordance to our faith: the practice of the virtues. It is what we receive with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, who is Himself the Gift of God – Donum Dei. If thou didst know the gift of God! May Our lady help us to know and to receive Him.