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!