samedi, novembre 25, 2006

Sermon for the 6th Sunday after Epiphany (transferred)

The spreading of the Gospel has often been accompanied by miracles as Saint Paul attests: For our gospel hath not been unto you in word only, but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fullness. This is to recall us that, whoever we are and whatever we do, it is only God who works in souls and make marvels. Men are just instruments in God’s hands. As such, they are totally useless. Yet, how difficult it is for us to recognize this truth! We think that we are important and that our works are necessary. An event will come some to remind us that we are wrong: our death! “Cemeteries are full of indispensable people”, an old saying says.

King Louis XIV, in spite of a youth of sins, knew this truth and gave a good lesson of humility at the time of his death. “Why do you cry?” he asked those who accompanied him during his agony. “Did you believe that I am immortal?” God gives life and he takes it back. He makes the kingdoms and takes them down. He does what He wants. No one can resists Him. No one can impede His will to be done.

Knowing this, dear brethren, we should rejoice and be in peace. We certainly need a lot of faith to understand this truth, especially when we see the state of the world today. The Church seems to be a sinking ship. The apostasy is almost universal. The great majority of the clergy is unfaithful and consequently the great majority of the baptized have forgotten their duties of disciples of Jesus-Christ. Satan reigns thru immorality, pornography, idolatry and whatever you want.

I will probably surprise you, but I would say: thanks be to God! Of course, not for the actual condition of the world and of the Church and not for the reign of evil. But thanks be to God, because if God permits this situation, it is good. In one way or another, God will show his power and its justice and His faithful disciples will be exalted.

Many of you are tempted to despair or to become angry because of what’s going on actually. But it is not the right attitude and the appropriate answer. It is a trap from Satan to make you forget your duty of sanctification. In fact, the right thing to do in order to make the world better is just to become more holy.

The kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed. It is also of our responsibility to take care of this little grain It is also like leaven. We must knead this leaven with the meal so that it can leavened.

Dear Brethren, none of us is indispensable. We have to consider ourselves as useless servants. But we have the obligation to work for the kingdom of Christ. After, God will use our actions and prayers to build the Kingdom, or He will not.

Today, the preaching of the Gospel is still accompanied by miracles. But a different kind of miracles than at the beginning. It is a kind of perpetual miracle that only a few can see and understand. It is the permanence of the Catholic Church who still stands in the World and teaches the eternal and immutable truth. As the first Council of the Vatican says, quoting the prophet Isaias, the Catholic Church is a standard set up unto the Nations. For that reason, the Council invites all the faithful to keep their Faith and their Hope.

The situation of those, who by the heavenly gift of faith have embraced the catholic truth, is by no means the same as that of those who, led by human opinions, follow a false religion; for those who have accepted the faith under the guidance of the church can never have any just cause for changing this faith or for calling it into question. This being so, giving thanks to God the Father who has made us worthy to share with the saints in light let us not neglect so great a salvation, but looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, let us hold the unshakeable confession of our hope.

Dear Brethren, we are still the salt of the earth and the light of God. So, don’t forget to act as such, full of joy, hope and love.
May Our Lady give us the strength to stand into the world and to be witnesses of the love of God for men.

mardi, novembre 07, 2006

A little story!

When God created the world, He decided to offer two gifts to each one of His people so that they can thrive. So, He made the Germans hard-workers and disciplined; the English Phlegmatic and ironic; the Italians joyful and humanistic; the Spanish brave and sober; The Belgians benevolent and jovial fellows; the Dutchmen clean and ordered. As for the French who had His preference, He decided that they would be intelligent, honest and democratic.

When the world was completed, the angel in charge of the distribution dared to question the Almighty:

- Lord, You wanted, in Your infinite wisdom that two gifts are granted each one of Your people, but the French have received three gifts and they are placed at the top of the others. Is that conformed to Your Justice?
The Creator answered: - In truth, I say it to you, each people received two gifts. The French people like the others, because no one will be able to have My three presents at the same time.
Thus it was.
And since… No democratic and honest French is intelligent. No democratic and intelligent French is honest. And no intelligent and honest French can be democratic.

Be prepared!

Sermon on Scouting
On May 11th 1940, Guy de Larigaudie died on a horse in the woods of Musson, near the Luxembourg’s border. They say that he died as he lived, maybe as he had dreamed of dying. He had said once, indeed: “You have to hold fast to life as to a horse.” He left us a beautiful example of greatness of soul and of heroism, an image of a Christian Knight of modern times, the perfect example of a Scout. He died from a deep sense of duty, to defend his country as a true Boy Scout, victim of the first hour of the German invasion. But he is still alive in the soul of many Boys Scouts and 66 years later he is still a model that many young men want to imitate.

Just a few days before his death, he wrote a letter to a Carmelite sister, the confidante of his heart. “ Sister, I am now at the battle. Maybe I will not come back from it. I had beautiful dreams and beautiful aspirations, but, apart the pain that will cause my poor mother and my dears, I truly rejoice. I have had so much nostalgia of Heaven, and now, its door is about to open. The sacrifice of my life is not even a sacrifice, since my desire of Heaven and of the possession of God is so immense. I had a dream of becoming a Saint and of being a model for the cub scouts, the boys scouts and the rovers. The ambition was perhaps too high for me, but it was my dream. Now I just have to run happily to my last adventure.”
So as he lived, he died. Guy de Larigaudie was faithful until the end to the Scout oath he took one day.

Guy de Larigaudie

What is this oath? We can say that it is the code of honor of the new knights that are the Scouts:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally upright

Lord Robert Baden Powell certainly had a good intuition when he decided to start an adventure with a group of 22 boys on Brownsea Island in 1907. Who could imagine that these young boys under the authority of a retired General of the British army would become the pioneers of a great community of children and men all over the world? Indeed, the idea was great.

Baden Powell, the Father of Scouting, was not Catholic, but his theories and conceptions about the education of the young are so good and realistic that when Father Sevin and Father Cornette discovered his work, they decided to start a Catholic movement of Scouting in France. Many other countries followed and started the adventure too.

In 1909, American businessman W. D. Boyce became lost in a dense London fog. As he was trying to find his way, he was approached by a boy carrying a lantern, who offered to take Boyce to the address he was looking for. When they arrived at the destination, Boyce offered the boy a tip. The boy refused, saying, "No, sir, I am a Scout. Scouts do not accept tips for courtesies or Good Turns." Boyce was so impressed with the lad and the Scouting concept he brought the idea back to the United States. On February 8, 1910, Boyce filed incorporation papers for the Boy Scouts of America in the District of Columbia. Scouting was born in the New World.
Last year, with Mister Ray Young, we decided to continue the Scout Adventure in our parish and we have created troop 1376 of the Boys Scouts of America. Our desire is to propose to our young children, and even to adults, a different life, far from the daily routine of the work, and also far from the comfort in which we like to establish ourselves. Taking the Scout road means renouncing to a certain ‘too easy’ way of life , which is a gain for your spiritual life. The heros and the Saints are not those who stay comfortably at home, sitting in a sofa with air conditioning and all the benefits of technology. Taking the Scout road is answering Our Lord’s call: If any man will follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me!

Father Sevin and Father Cornette

Scouting is a school of life, and a very good one. Lord Baden Powell has oriented scouting toward five goals, which are: health, character, service, ability and sense of God. The purpose is to make the children, future men of honor, of self-sacrifice, and of responsibility. Our purpose as a Catholic troop, is also and mainly to make them holy. The sense of God is given through the traditional Liturgy of the Church, the practice of the Sacrament and the teaching of a good spirituality which has made many Saints in the past. We want to be faithful to the authentic and traditional spirit of Scouting which has already borne many good fruits, such as many vocations. It is not just a coincidence if many of our traditional seminaries and monasteries are full of many former Scouts. I said ‘former Scout’, but, actually I should not use ‘former’ since a Scout is a Scout for ever.

Today, there is even a religious scout Order, according of the spirit of Father Sevin, and by the way, this Order is a part of Ecclesia Dei with the traditional Liturgy. It is the Institute of The Holy Cross of Riaumont, in northern France. Those of you who came to Chartres last year had the opportunity to meet them. The idea of Father Sevin was “a religious life in the spirit of scouting with the service of the young people.” Like Guy de Larigaudie, and, I suppose, like every Scout in the world, Father Sevin had a dream: “I dream of the team of missionary scouts, who, under the dress or the khaki tunic would be inserted into the African bush... to give the tribes as well as the little boys of France the sumptuous gift of an always young Scouting, a living herald of the Gospel, truly yours, my dear sons, and truly theirs.”

Boys Scouts of Riaumont with their 'Father'

during the Pilgrimage of Chartres

So, dear Brethren, we want to give you this same gift, here for the young American children. But we need your help to realize this dream. The fact is, because of the regulations, we must have at least 6 children in order to have a troop. We also need adults to help us. Because of the departure of some families, we will soon lack both children and adults for our troop. This means that we will have to close our troop in January if we cannot meet the minimum requirement for the number of scouts. So, we need you in order to continue our adventure. Today I ask you to rouse from a certain torpor which manifests itself in different ways. I ask especially the young adult group to think about this. I know that you have your studies and works and they are your main duty. But then, there are other ways to spend your available time rather than just going to parties. I ask especially the ‘former’ Scouts and eagle Scouts to remember their oath. As I said, you are not former Scouts, but you are still and forever a Scout. We need you.
We need all souls of good will in order to continue the work of formation of the youth, the future adults of tomorrow, and hopefully the Saints of the XXI century.

May Our Lady, Mother of the Scouts take us under her mantel. May she help us to be faithful to our oath and to keep the Scout Law and to be prepared.

vendredi, novembre 03, 2006

Honneur à ceux de Verdun !

The following text is a translation of an editorial of Michel De Jaeghere, published in a special issue of Le Figaro.

Verdun. The entire French Army had a rendez-vous there. It was necessary to hold strong and fast. They, the Germans, would not pass. The young men of the country rushed there, as water rushes to estuary, to offer their lives. Verdun. This is the battle of the greatest of wars: the symbol of courageous hearts and of the horror of battle, the symbol of the incredible enduring forbearance of men and of the inhumanity of modern warfare. Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, who was wounded there on February 25th 1916, wrote: “Verdun! No more trees, no more houses, no more animals for five leagues around. Divisions were destroyed even before they joined the front line. Men killed each other without ever seeing the eyes of their enemies. Lines were tangled. Artillery pieces were found far away from the desolation like warships caught in the middle of the battle by the tempest.

For a long time, the landscape has remained wasted and tragic. On this ravaged ground plowed by fire, the feet of mangled and jagged trunks stood alone toward the grey sky. Then, life’s breath gently blew over this cold and desolate land. Red poppies bloom in the trenches and thistle in the ravine of Death. Beaumont, Fleury, Cumières: the litany of the martyred villages about which an astonished passer-by notes that nothing remains but a chapel which marks its tracks in the frothing of the shell’s holes, like the melancholy of a poem of the Val de Loire.

But there, in this land, nothing would ever be the same again. This land, as Montherlant wrote, “is now forever unfit for frivolity. Having been indelibly marred, it took the sudden magnificence of the wounded, and like them, purified from what is accessory, enlarged to the infinite, crowned by silence, past from mediocre contacts to the mystery of a tremendous secret and entered into an immortal gravity.” For his part, Maurice Genevoix who fought not too far from there, at the Eparges, said: “ Here are the fields of the lost men. And even now, at this moment, I can see bleeding wounds and young dying bodies. I still hear, in the dark and rainy night, their moans, their desesperate voices which yell my name, which call me…

In Verdun, you walk between the crevices. Fortresses no longer show their geometrical lines. They are now shapeless crests, pockmarked by scars, flat like anvils sunken into the ground by the hammering of the sky’s fire. Communication trenches cross the copsewoods, and, for a long time, visitors have been warned against the potential danger, here and there, of buried shells, grenades and weapons. And you only have to dig a little bit to unearth bullets lying just below the topsoil. In Douaumont, a crucifix is enscripted with the words: “ To an unknown named Marcel.” Another one reads: “Two Frenchmen” reunited for the last rest. But it is the entire countryside of Verdun which is really just an immense cemetery. 160,000 French soldiers, as many, or almost, as many as German soldiers or almost, fell on the 20 kilometer front. How many of them have escaped the research and are left out of the cold statistics? How many of these forgotten and uncounted lay without graves while the mixed bones of their French and German brothers finally reconciled, joined the burial vault of the ossuary? A survivor said once: “ If all the men who died here stood up, they wouldn’t have enough room to stand shoulder to shoulder, because they have fallen in successive waves.” In Verdun, you don’t set foot only on a bruised land but on an immense necropolis, it is the bloody face of war.

Montherlant, who attended the ceremony in August 1920, related that when the foundation stone was laid, not a single word was uttered. “ The silence of the consecrators suited the rest of the men who had accepted in silence, who had suffered in silence and who had died in silence.” Standing on the ridge of Thiaumont, Marshal Pétain was content with soberly narrating the main stages of the battle: “Pausing after each sentence, so that it could be translated for the foreigners who attended the ceremony, his narrative had a scanned rhythm, as the inscriptions on stones, as if at this very moment, he was composing it for the temple of glory.

Composing this issue for the 90th anniversary of the battle of Verdun, we endeavored to imitate the sobriety and the gravity of the ossuary’s the founders. We tried to recall the mortal wounds of the men lying in the eternal mud in order to revive without effects those who died without sentences. Maurice Genevoix wrote again: “He who has once heard during a cutting and rainy night, the moan of a wounded man lost in the front of the lines, or caught in the depth of his eyes the glance of a dying army friend, will always hear this moan and see this shattering glance. Words are now, and forever, nothing.

You have a heavy heart when you contemplate the terrifying pictures of this epic, as well as when you turn over the pages of the picture books of Epinal, or the beautiful books of Job which liken it to the victories of the Grognards[1] of the Empire, or the yellowed leafs of the Poilus’ letters.[2] They have served. They have suffered! They gave their lives. They have been paid only and solely by their own greatness of soul, because of what the war has revealed of them. They intended to save France. But, in the end, they could not drag her from the dark spiral of her decadence. They thought that they would end the last of the wars. Yet, it would come again even before one generation had passed. Some of them believed that it was perhaps their role to save the inheritance of the civilization. In fact, it was the opposite, they merely opened the century of the combined totalitarianisms and the barbarisms of Communism and Nazism. The Old Europe didn’t rise again from the blood of her martyrs: she died in it. They bequeathed to us – but what they have done is tremendous – only the example of their detachment and of their courage: they held strong and fast.

In Verdun, an entire generation went to the front line, like at the altar of the sacrifice. “Up there.” They were our fathers and our grand-fathers. We owe them all.

One speaks, instant in season or out of season, about the duty of memory, most of the time in order to disparage France and to destroy the seeds that implant the love of country and countryman in the hearts of new generations. For us, this commemoration presented the opportunity to fulfill this duty in order to entertain, on the opposite, one of the most necessary feelings, because the transmission of the inheritance of who we only are the transient depositaries depends on it. This precious feeling is filial devotion.

[1] The “Grognards” were the soldier of Napoleon's Old Guard .

[2] The "Poilus" were the French soldiers during WW I

The duty of memory:

honoring those who fought for the country!