dimanche, décembre 16, 2007

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent

During our recollection, yesterday, Father Duroisin reminded us of the importance of the theological virtues. They are important – I should say, they are essential – because they have God for their proper object. In other words, they put us directly in relation with God. These virtues of faith, hope and charity constitute us as Christian, true disciples of Jesus Christ and establish us in a very particular relation with God. All the other virtues are good in themselves, but finally are useless regarding our eternal destiny if they are not grounded on the theological virtues.
Faith, Hope and Charity
Musée du Louvre

The world has lost the sense of God, and losing it, it also has lost good common sense. A certain chaos ensues from the abandonment of God and you just have to open your eyes to realize that the world has been going crazy for the last two centuries. Certainly there has never been a golden age with everything perfect, since original sin. Even in the times of Christendom, human nature was still in rebellion against its Creator, but at least the states and the institutions provided a better environment for the salvation of souls, which is ultimately the most important thing on earth. Salvation of souls is the main duty of the Church who has the sufficient means to provide this: as such, she is a perfect society and does not need any help from the state or any other institution. One has to be a member of the Catholic Church and to follow her teaching in order to be saved. That’s all. No political system, no human institution, and no man can provide salvation, but only Our Lord Jesus Christ through the Church He founded.

Nevertheless, as long as we live on earth in time, we belong to the temporal order. Even though this one is distinct from the spiritual order, it still has to recognize its supremacy. When the temporal order revolts against the spiritual order, there is a lot of damage to souls. The spiritual order has been strongly attacked by the temporal order within the last two centuries. The century of Enlightenment brought the Revolution which was the rejection of God from society. Then different totalitarian systems tried to annihilate Christianity and even God Himself. They perished as a system even though their ideas still exist today.
Now, a materialistic society continues the work of destroying the faith. Today, we, the disciples of Jesus of the XXI century, live in a world that has rejected God. As we were told during the recollection, we in a certain way are in a similar situation as the Jews at the time of King Achaz. It was a difficult time for the people of God and the survival of the Kingdom of Israel was at stake. But God through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah gave a strong warning: Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm. (Is. 7: 9)
The temptation is great for us to follow the world and consequently to fall into its errors. It is hard to not follow the tidal wave of liberalism that takes everything on its way. For Cardinal Henry Newman – one the greatest spirits of the XIX century – liberalism is a figure of the Anti-Christ. So, we have to be firm in order to resist it and our faith has to be firm. But being firm in our faith puts us in a situation of conflict with the world. For us it involves the refusal of many practices which are incompatible with revealed truth, such as abortion or contraception.
The world has its dogmas and wants us to accept them. They are hidden behind the new universal virtue called ‘tolerance.’ Some new prophets, who do not speak the gospel of Jesus, but their own gospel, even try to make us believe that tolerance is a Christian virtue. I would like to know where in the gospel Jesus gives a lesson of tolerance. The gospel is all about charity, but charity is not tolerance. For now, I can only remember this assertion from the great Cardinal Pie, who said that if you want to know what the true religion is, you have to look at which one is the most intolerant. And this is the Catholic religion.
Let us be firm in our faith. The world cannot save us and trying to find a compromise with it is an illusion. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us, salvation is not in such a compromise, but in God only. God gave a sign to Israel. This is the great prophecy that we hear during the time of Advent: Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel. (Is 7:14) Emmanuel! God is with us. It is the message of the Incarnation that brings the true hope into the world. Benedict XVI says in his recent encyclical letter about hope that this revelation is not merely a communication of things that can be known—it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life. Accepting the gift of the Incarnation is receiving a new life and is a great source of joy.

Gaudete! Rejoice! Have no anxiety, Saint Paul says, but rejoice in the Lord! When the time of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah came, the angel said to Mary “Do not be afraid!” These words are for us. There is no reason to be anxious and there is no reason to be afraid, because God is with us.
May Our Lady help us to understand this, so that we can receive the message of the Incarnation with a heart full of joy. It is the best answer we can give to the world like the martyrs who ran to their torments with joy. Will the world think that we are foolish? Yes we are, for the foolishness of God is wiser than men. (1Co1,23)

1 commentaire:

Anonyme a dit…

What a wonderful sermon, Father! You have no idea how much this meant to us. We are former members of the community in Little Rock. We have had some hard times lately and your last statements regarding hope and to rejoice truly touch our souls. God bless you, Father, and thank you for speaking the truth.