lundi, décembre 01, 2008

Sermon for the first Sunday of Advent

The first Sunday of Advent begins the new liturgical year and the church already presents to our minds a meditation on the end of times. From her foundation by Our Lord and her public manifestation on the day of Pentecost to the end of times, the Church continues her pilgrimage until the achievement of everything. The old regimes, namely the Law of nature and the Mosaic Law, have been abolished and we are now in the fullness of time according to Saint Paul or already in the last times according to Saint Peter, since the mystery of the Incarnation has been revealed.
Everything has been set by God before the foundation of the world but the manifestation of God’s plan to the creatures finds its fulfillment in history. God is not in the time: He is eternal, He is The Eternal. It is hard for us to realize what eternity means because we have no experience of it. We certainly have an intellectual concept of eternity, which is the absence of time, but since we are in the time, we hardly understand the notion of eternity. And the problem with us, poor and frail creatures, is that we often prefer to feel and to experiment rather than to comprehend with our intellect. This is a temptation of our fallen nature, but when it’s become a principle, it has some terrible consequences very harmful to souls. Saint Pius X have well explained the error of modernism that is founded upon a wrong principle: vital immanence. Religion is not any more something revealed by God but comes from a need or an impulsion. Therefore, Saint Pius X, says, as God is the object of religion, we must conclude that faith, which is the basis and foundation of all religion, must consist in a certain interior sense, originating in a need of the divine. This need of the divine, which is experienced only in special and favorable circumstances cannot of itself appertain to the domain of consciousness, but is first latent beneath consciousness, or, to borrow a term from modern philosophy, in the subconsciousness, where also its root lies hidden and undetected.
In other words, Religion, Faith, Revelation don’t have any more a supernatural and superior principle, but come from ourselves as a result of a need that has to be expressed in a way or another. Unfortunately, we can see the result of this error almost in all the churches where the liturgy became an occasion to express this need. Since modernism has changed the faith of the Church, it is not really surprising that it has changed her liturgy that is, by its very nature, the expression of her faith, and especially faith in the mysteries of the Incarnation and of the Redemption. The liturgy became a place and a time of experimentation, a laboratory. You know that in chemistry when you put together different compounds you may obtain a new one. So, when you introduce in churches different things that don’t pertain to the liturgy, you may obtain a new thing that is not any more a liturgy according to the mind of the Church, but a kind of celebration in the meaning of a party. The Holy Mysteries are no longer meditated and people end by losing faith. The sacred liturgy loses its character of objectivity – the objectivity of faith – and is submitted to the personal interpretation of each one. Then, you judge and appreciate a Mass according to some subjective principles that can be the personal piety of the priest or the talent of the singers and musicians or the dress of the lady that reads the epistle or whatever you want. And if you are pleased by what you see and hear, you declare that it is a beautiful Mass.
But Mass is beautiful in itself, by its nature, because it is first true and good. It is the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ and along with all others Sacraments and Offices and prayers that constitute the Liturgy of the Church, it is a visible sign of the mysteries hidden from the beginning and now revealed to men. The liturgical year is a kind of unwinding in a period of time of the eternal mysteries of God and it leads us toward the consummation of centuries when finally times will end.

The liturgy introduces us into the Divines mysteries and leads us toward eternity

Now Charles Cardinal Journet wonders why the Church goes on and lasts in the time. The first answer is obvious, he says. The mission of the Church is to dispense until the end of times the mystery of the Redemption of Christ. Our Lord saves us by, and only by His Church. This is why He sends the Church in mission in all the Nations to preach the Gospel and to sanctify people through the reception of the Sacraments of the New Law. Here is the true progress of the Church. The Church progresses when the Gospel is taught and when the Sacraments are performed and offered to the people. This is the continuation, the development and the manifestation throughout the centuries and all over the world of the gift of Pentecost. The Church continues her mission and her pilgrimage between the persecution of men and the consolations of God according to Saint Augustine. This is the time of the Church that takes place between the first and the second coming of Christ and we have nothing else to expect.
But this mission can be fulfilled only with Charity, which is the love of God and of the truth, which is finally the same thing. God is the Truth. So we cannot pretend to have charity if we do not have the courage of proclaiming the truth. And as the time when we live now is more difficult because of the rejection of God and of the revelation, we certainly need more courage than our elders, and we certainly need more charity. We certainly live in a time when God asks us more. You know, in difficult times for the Church, especially in times of persecution, we can see two things. We can see the renunciation of certain Christians who give up their faith and embrace the ideas of the world. But we can see also the heroism of others who are ready to give up anything, even their own life, for God, and who display a beautiful example of charity.
As we come near the end of times – obviously we are nearer year after year – we expect more persecution of men. But we are waiting for a great consolation of God when things that are still hidden will be unveiled with the second coming of Christ. Until this day, let us continue to meditate on the mysteries of our faith by living them, especially through the Divine Liturgy that the Church offers.

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