dimanche, juillet 15, 2007

Lex orandi, Lex credendi.... Lex vivendi !

Sermon for 7th Sunday after Pentecost

This month of July 2007 is definitively a great time in the History of the Catholic Church. The Motu Proprio finally came and now the highest Authority of the Church recognizes and says that the Tridentine Mass has never been abrogated and that every priest of the Latin Rite can celebrate it. It was already the case before the Motu Proprio, but it is good that it is now officially proclaimed. As Bishop Fellay points out, the Motu Proprio shows that the constancy to defend the Lex orandi has been taken into account. Then he adds that we must continue the combat for the Lex credendi.
We can rejoice for the Motu Proprio because it is something good, but we have to be aware that it does not signify the end of our combat. The crisis that the Church knows is deep and did not start with the Novus Ordo, which is more a consequence of the crisis rather than a cause. A reading of the Encyclical letter, Pascendi, of Saint Pius X would easily convince you of this truth. By the way, it must be noted that not only did Pius X describe the modernism in this document, but he also gave the remedy against it. I think these remedies would still be effective today, if only they were used. First it depends on the authorities of the Church, the Pope and the Bishops.

For us, let us continue what we have done. In fact, the Motu proprio should not change our lives, except that we now have another reason to be missionaries to a greater extent. The beauty of the Latin Mass is not something that we have to keep for ourselves, but it is a treasure of the Church that we have to spread and share. If the Motu proprio has to change something in our Christian lives, it should be our reverence toward the holy Liturgy as the most excellent way to worship God and an expression of the Faith of the Church. Lex orandi, lex credendi: both are tied together.
After the Motu Proprio, many Catholics will probably turn toward us, traditionalist Catholics, maybe just to observe. The newspapers and televisions in America and in Europe already have come into our churches to see who we are and what we do. So, dear brethren, more than ever, we have the duty to give a good testimony. Our Liturgy is not a show, but the expression of our Faith and of our Charity.
For this reason, on our part, for the priests and congregation, it requires a necessary preparation before Mass and a certain attention during Mass. Thus we should leave the church, after Mass and after a suitable time of thanksgiving, with feelings and thoughts of gratitude and joy toward our God and live consequently as good disciples of Jesus.

We have the Lex credendi, which tells us what we have to believe and the Lex orandi, which teaches us how to pray. I think that in order to complete this painting of the Christian life, we need to add the third part of this fine art, which we can name Lex vivendi. It tells us how to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. As I was preparing this sermon, some words of Father Jerome came to my mind. Father Jerome wrote a beautiful book entitled "The Art of Being a Disciple."
I like this idea that being a disciple is an art. This means that being disciples of Jesus makes us artists. We are the artists of God! In fact we are just apprentice-artists. Our Master is the Father; His masterpiece is the Son. The Franciscan tradition in the Middle-Ages came to call Him: “Ars Patris” “The Art of the Father.” What a beautiful name for Our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Art of the Father!
Our task as apprentice-artists is now to reproduce the “Art of our Father.” We have to reproduce Jesus in our lives and the more we are open to the grace of God, the more our piece of art will be conformed to the model.
Now, what is an art? It is usually admitted that an art is the use of skills, talent and imagination in order to produce something aesthetic. We also use in English the term “fine art” which comes from Aristotle. For Aristotle, the final cause of a thing is the purpose for its existence, and the term "fine art" is derived from this notion. If the final cause of an artwork is simply the artwork itself, "art for art's sake," and not a means to another end, then that artwork could appropriately be called "fine." The closely related concept of beauty is classically defined as "that which when seen, pleases." Pleasure is the final cause of beauty and thus is not a means to another end, but an end in itself.
If we consider, as the scholastic thinkers of the Middle-Ages and more recently as Maritain, that beauty is a transcendental, this concept of beauty works well when we apply it to God. The Incarnate Word is the most fine art we can find and when we see Him, He pleases. God is being; He is goodness. He is beauty too. By our nature we already share these attributes with Him. When we are in the state of grace, it is on a higher level, for a higher purpose.

So, dear brethren, if we are artists, we should make beauty around us. This is our lex vivendi: spreading the beauty of God, by our actions and by our lives. Dostoievski said that “Beauty will save the world.” He was right, because the true beauty is Jesus-Christ, the way, the truth and the life.

Let us ask this of the most beautiful woman, a great artist too, to teach us the beauty of God. Then, we will love it and reproduce it in our lives, not only at church during Mass, but always and everywhere. The Tridentine Mass is an excellent expression of this beauty, but it supposes that we celebrate it with beautiful souls. Making beautiful souls is precisely the work of God. May Our Lady help us to realize it.

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