jeudi, février 25, 2010

Cathedral of Helena, Montana

Just some pictures of the Cathedral of Helena taken last summer (the pictures, and not the Cathedral)

Le sourire

Jean de Larigaudie, Etoile au grand large

Il est un bon moyen de se créer une âme amicale : le sourire. Pas le sourire ironique et moqueur, le sourire en coin de lèvres, qui juge et rapetisse. Mais le sourire large net, le sourire scout à fleur de rire. Savoir sourire : quelle force ! Force d'apaisement, force de douceur, de calme, force de rayonnement. Un type fait une réflexion sur ton passage... tu es pressé... tu passes... mais souris, souris vastement. Si ton sourire est franc joyeux, ton type sourira aussi... et l'incident sera clos dans la paix... Essaie. Tu veux faire à un camarade une critique que tu juges nécessaire, lui donner un conseil que tu crois utile. Critique, conseil, choses dures à avaler. Mais souris, compense la dureté des mots par l'affection de ton regard, le rire de tes lèvres, par toute ta physionomie joyeuse. Et ta critique, ton conseil porteront mieux... parce qu'ils n'auront pas blessé. Il est des moments où, devant certaines détresses, les mots ne viennent pas, les paroles consolatrices ne veulent pas sortir... Souris avec tout ton cœur, avec toute ton âme compatissante. Tu as souffert et le sourire muet d'un ami t'a réconforté. Tu ne peux pas ne pas avoir fait cette expérience. Agis de même pour les autres. « Christ, disait Jacques d'Arnoux, quand ton bois sacré me harasse et me déchire, donne-moi quand même la force de faire la charité du sourire ». Car le sourire est une charité. Souris à ce pauvre à qui tu viens de donner deux sous..., à cette dame à qui tu viens de céder ta place..., à ce monsieur qui s'excuse parce qu'il t'a écrasé le pied en passant. Il est malaisé parfois de trouver le mot juste, l'attitude vraie, le geste approprié. Mais sourire ! C'est si facile... et cela arrange tant de choses ! Pourquoi ne pas user et abuser de ce moyen si simple. Le sourire est un reflet de joie. Il en est source. Et là où la joie règne - je veux dire la vraie joie, la joie en profondeur et en pureté d'âme - là aussi s'épanouit cette "âme amicale" dont parlait si bien Schaeffer. Routiers, soyons des porteurs de sourires, et par là des semeurs de joie.

lundi, février 22, 2010

Letter to Bishop Taylor

As many other people, I was surprised to read the sermon that His Excellency Anthony Taylor, Bishop of Little Rock delivered on January 17th. In this sermon, General Robert E. Lee was simply associated with the culture of death. The same day, I gave a sermon – I was not aware of Bishop Taylor’s sermon at this time – and said that Robert E. Lee, though non Catholic, was a great man of honor and of principle who did not hesitate to sacrifice many things for what he thought being good. It is precisely for the sake of honor – it is justice to defend someone’s honor – that we had to react against this statement of Bishop Taylor, who happens to be my Bishop in Arkansas. It is with all due respect, without any unsound volition against the authority of our Bishop, but simply because we think it is the right thing to do that we sent the following letter to Bishop Taylor. It was written by Earnie Cavin and signed by 56 persons including myself.

Your Excellency,

After hearing about your sermon delivered Sunday, January 17th, AD 2010 and reviewing the text in the Arkansas Catholic, we were struck by your level of insensitivity towards the memory and the honor of a man who is considered to be a great Christian hero by many, many people, including Catholics, across this great state and nation. In addressing the timely and wholly appropriate topic of abortion, you used, what appears to be, your low personal opinion of an honorable 19th century military commander along with your obviously high personal opinion of a 20th century social action figure, to illustrate some perceived dichotomy between the two; linking Lee to the “culture of death” and King to the “culture of life”…

From your words, it appears you hold that, because Lee led an army in a bloody war, he was aligned with the “culture of death”… What’s more, you postulate that Lee was leading this army to keep slavery alive and well. However, you declare that because King led an effort in reforming social laws, through “non-violent” means, he was of the “culture of life”.

You express “astonishment” that Lee would be honored with a holiday in Arkansas. Let us assure you that we are astonished, indeed shocked, that the Ordinary of a diocese in a state which left the United States, and was honored to become a state of the Confederacy, would make such detrimental statements about a man who courageously led many secessionist Catholics into battle against an overwhelming invasion force of a tyrannical government. A holiday for Lee on the same weekend that we have a holiday for King? You asked, ”Why in the world would we ever want to do that?” Well, let us respectfully point out that “we” did not include “you”. Lee’s birthday (January 19) was a state holiday, long before King came to prominence. No dichotomy existed then.

Indeed, the very war which Lee fought was over the centralization of power, by the federal government. Because the war was lost, that same centralization has grown in nature to the point in which the ability of states to nullify laws, such as Roe vs. Wade, has been all but extinguished. When you think about it, the victory of the various northern states paved the way for the current federal system which mandates that every state allow abortion. Considering this possibility, perhaps Lee’s motives are a little more complex and noble than your sermon indicated. Could it be that Lee was more aligned with the “culture of life” than you realized? Therefore, to try and make the point that Lee fought on the side that wished to preserve slavery, making him somehow morally inferior to Dr. King, is a disregard of the facts as well as the bigger picture. Chattel slavery in the west (evil that it was), was on its way out… This was a given. Only two western countries still allowed slavery: The United States and Brazil. Lee was sympathetic towards the repeal of slavery, as were many other southerners who fought and died against an overwhelming invading army, in their quest for independence. The repeal of slavery would have certainly come about, soon, with or without the war.

Your comments would consequently hold the same contempt for all southerners of the period (Black, White, Catholic, Protestant, and Jew) who supported this great state, the Confederacy, and their struggle against an invasion. Were these people also aligned with the “culture of death”?

What about Confederate Catholics like:
Gen. Pierre Beauregard, who fired the first barrage at Fort Sumter ?
Gen. James Longstreet who commanded at Gettysburg ?
Rear Adm. Raphael Semmes who commanded the legendary CSS Alabama ?
Col. Santos Benavides of Texas ?
Gen. Joseph Finnegan of Florida ?
Stephen Mallory, Secretary of the Confederate Navy ?
Were these men also aligned with the “culture of death”?

What about the Catholic men who fought with valor such as those of the:
10th Tennessee?
Louisiana Tigers?
First Missouri?
…. “Culture of death”, also?

What about the courageous men of black Confederate regiments, such as the black Catholics in the 1st Louisiana Native Guard? …“Culture of death”?

What about the Southern priests, such as:
Fr. Abram Ryan, Poet Laureate of the South ?
Fr. Emmeran Bliemel (Killed in Action), Confederate Medal of Honor winner ?
Fr. John Bannon, fighting chaplain of the First Missouri ?
…Aligned with the “culture of death”, also?

Or what about your brother prelates, such as Bishop Patrick Lynch of Charleston, who was the ambassador of the Confederacy to the Holy See. Was he too aligned with the “culture of death”?

What about the Papal States? The Papal States were the only countries to exchange ambassadors with the Confederate States of America. Were they also complicit in the “culture of death”?

What about the Holy See and Blessed Pope Pius IX himself. . . . The only world leader to give de facto recognition of legitimacy of the Confederate States of America, addressing President Davis as the “Illustrious and Honorable Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America”? The same Holy Pontiff who wove a crown of thorns, with his own hands, and sent them to an embattled Jefferson Davis while Davis was held without trial for several years after the war? The same Holy Father who sent an autographed picture of himself to Davis, inscribed (from his own hand) with the words, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

Was the Holy Father then also aligned with the “culture of death” ?

Your Excellency, while your zeal for social justice and work to end abortion is very much appreciated, we feel that denigrating the honor and memory of such a great man, whose courage, leadership, and impeccable moral character has, for over a century, been a model of civic responsibility, to so many people across this land, is both offensive and abrasive. Your public sermon, which seeks to include such a moral man, who is a great hero to the people of Arkansas and the rest of the South, in the “culture of death”, is both insensitive and insulting.

We prayerfully ask that you re-investigate the man and the conflict carefully. We might also recommend that you look a little deeper into the relationship that Holy Mother Church worked to foster with the Confederate States of America. Arkansas’ and the other Southern states’ cause for independence cannot be so simply described as the result of panicked slave holders, as so many northern history scholars have depicted.

We also prayerfully ask that you humbly consider retracting the offensive comments, in the spirit of cultural and pastoral charity.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours, Respectfully in Christ,

jeudi, février 11, 2010

Pope's message for Lent

“The justice of God has been manifested
through faith in Jesus Christ” (cf. Rm 3, 21-22)

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Each year, on the occasion of Lent, the Church invites us to a sincere review of our life in light of the teachings of the Gospel. This year, I would like to offer you some reflections on the great theme of justice, beginning from the Pauline affirmation: “The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ” (cf. Rm 3, 21-22).

Justice: “dare cuique suum”

First of all, I want to consider the meaning of the term “justice,” which in common usage implies “to render to every man his due,” according to the famous expression of Ulpian, a Roman jurist of the third century. In reality, however, this classical definition does not specify what “due” is to be rendered to each person. What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law. In order to live life to the full, something more intimate is necessary that can be granted only as a gift: we could say that man lives by that love which only God can communicate since He created the human person in His image and likeness. Material goods are certainly useful and required – indeed Jesus Himself was concerned to heal the sick, feed the crowds that followed Him and surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water and medicine – yet “distributive” justice does not render to the human being the totality of his “due.” Just as man needs bread, so does man have even more need of God. Saint Augustine notes: if “justice is that virtue which gives every one his due ... where, then, is the justice of man, when he deserts the true God?” (De civitate Dei, XIX, 21).

What is the Cause of Injustice?

The Evangelist Mark reports the following words of Jesus, which are inserted within the debate at that time regarding what is pure and impure: “There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him … What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts” (Mk 7, 14-15, 20-21). Beyond the immediate question concerning food, we can detect in the reaction of the Pharisees a permanent temptation within man: to situate the origin of evil in an exterior cause. Many modern ideologies deep down have this presupposition: since injustice comes “from outside,” in order for justice to reign, it is sufficient to remove the exterior causes that prevent it being achieved. This way of thinking – Jesus warns – is ingenuous and shortsighted. Injustice, the fruit of evil, does not have exclusively external roots; its origin lies in the human heart, where the seeds are found of a mysterious cooperation with evil. With bitterness the Psalmist recognises this: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps 51,7). Indeed, man is weakened by an intense influence, which wounds his capacity to enter into communion with the other. By nature, he is open to sharing freely, but he finds in his being a strange force of gravity that makes him turn in and affirm himself above and against others: this is egoism, the result of original sin. Adam and Eve, seduced by Satan’s lie, snatching the mysterious fruit against the divine command, replaced the logic of trusting in Love with that of suspicion and competition; the logic of receiving and trustfully expecting from the Other with anxiously seizing and doing on one’s own (cf. Gn 3, 1-6), experiencing, as a consequence, a sense of disquiet and uncertainty. How can man free himself from this selfish influence and open himself to love?

Justice and Sedaqah

At the heart of the wisdom of Israel, we find a profound link between faith in God who “lifts the needy from the ash heap” (Ps 113,7) and justice towards one’s neighbor. The Hebrew word itself that indicates the virtue of justice, sedaqah, expresses this well. Sedaqah, in fact, signifies on the one hand full acceptance of the will of the God of Israel; on the other hand, equity in relation to one’s neighbour (cf. Ex 20, 12-17), especially the poor, the stranger, the orphan and the widow (cf. Dt 10, 18-19). But the two meanings are linked because giving to the poor for the Israelite is none other than restoring what is owed to God, who had pity on the misery of His people. It was not by chance that the gift to Moses of the tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai took place after the crossing of the Red Sea. Listening to the Law presupposes faith in God who first “heard the cry” of His people and “came down to deliver them out of hand of the Egyptians” (cf. Ex 3,8). God is attentive to the cry of the poor and in return asks to be listened to: He asks for justice towards the poor (cf. Sir 4,4-5, 8-9), the stranger (cf. Ex 22,20), the slave (cf. Dt 15, 12-18). In order to enter into justice, it is thus necessary to leave that illusion of self-sufficiency, the profound state of closure, which is the very origin of injustice. In other words, what is needed is an even deeper “exodus” than that accomplished by God with Moses, a liberation of the heart, which the Law on its own is powerless to realize. Does man have any hope of justice then?

Christ, the Justice of God

The Christian Good News responds positively to man’s thirst for justice, as Saint Paul affirms in the Letter to the Romans: “But now the justice of God has been manifested apart from law … the justice of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (3, 21-25). What then is the justice of Christ? Above all, it is the justice that comes from grace, where it is not man who makes amends, heals himself and others. The fact that “expiation” flows from the “blood” of Christ signifies that it is not man’s sacrifices that free him from the weight of his faults, but the loving act of God who opens Himself in the extreme, even to the point of bearing in Himself the “curse” due to man so as to give in return the “blessing” due to God (cf. Gal 3, 13-14). But this raises an immediate objection: what kind of justice is this where the just man dies for the guilty and the guilty receives in return the blessing due to the just one? Would this not mean that each one receives the contrary of his “due”? In reality, here we discover divine justice, which is so profoundly different from its human counterpart. God has paid for us the price of the exchange in His Son, a price that is truly exorbitant. Before the justice of the Cross, man may rebel for this reveals how man is not a self-sufficient being, but in need of Another in order to realize himself fully. Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one’s own need – the need of others and God, the need of His forgiveness and His friendship. So we understand how faith is altogether different from a natural, good-feeling, obvious fact: humility is required to accept that I need Another to free me from “what is mine,” to give me gratuitously “what is His.” This happens especially in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Thanks to Christ’s action, we may enter into the “greatest” justice, which is that of love (cf. Rm 13, 8-10), the justice that recognises itself in every case more a debtor than a creditor, because it has received more than could ever have been expected. Strengthened by this very experience, the Christian is moved to contribute to creating just societies, where all receive what is necessary to live according to the dignity proper to the human person and where justice is enlivened by love.

Dear brothers and sisters, Lent culminates in the Paschal Triduum, in which this year, too, we shall celebrate divine justice – the fullness of charity, gift, salvation. May this penitential season be for every Christian a time of authentic conversion and intense knowledge of the mystery of Christ, who came to fulfill every justice. With these sentiments, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.

dimanche, février 07, 2010

Les valeurs du rugby

Par Daniel Bouthier
« Le rugby : école de la vie », l’affirmation est fréquente, c’est même devenu l’un des slogans au sein de la Fédération Française de Rugby. Pour autant il est judicieux d’examiner plus finement qu’elles sont les valeurs véhiculées par le rugby et à quelles conditions toutes ou parties de celles-ci ont lieux d’être visées et peuvent être développées dans une perspective éducative à l’école.
Le rugby dans sa forme moderne a émergé et s’est développé comme outil d’éducation dans les collèges anglais avant de dépasser le cadre scolaire et de se « sportiviser ». Inspiré de jeux ancestraux, dont on retrouve des traces dès l’antiquité, et subissant des variations selon les époques et les cultures, le rugby dans sa forme initiale renvoie à un « esprit du jeu ».
L’esprit du jeu

Ce dernier reste plus ou moins implicite, mais l’analyse socio-historique de l’évolution du règlement qui matérialise cet esprit et, des discours des dirigeants de l’International Rugby Board, qui légifèrent à ce propos, permet de l’expliciter :
- se confronter à la variété et la rudesse des oppositions guerrières. Affronter l’ennemi par les fantassins, le contourner par la cavalerie, ou l’atteindre sur ses arrières par l’artillerie comme au temps des romains, mais encore des troupes napoléoniennes, reste l’une des trois modalités collectives d’attaque en rugby (jeu à la main groupé ou déployé et jeu au pied) ;
- préserver l’intégrité physique des pratiquants. Le seuil de tolérance des dommages acceptables évoluant avec la société (de la fracture osseuse au XIXème siècle à l’hématome aujourd’hui) et les institutions de pratique (école, club) ;
- conserver le caractère ludique du jeu, du fait de l’égalité des chances (assurée par l’application uniforme du règlement) et, de l’incertitude du résultat (supposant un relatif équilibre des équipes en opposition).
Même si la mondialisation en cours du jeu (instauration de la Coupe du monde), sa marchandisation (avènement du professionnalisme), sa spectacularisation (influence des exigences télévisuelles) viennent aujourd’hui accélérer et orienter les évolutions à venir.

Quelles valeurs sont alors mises en exergue par ce jeu.

Sport collectif d’opposition frontale, le rugby suppose la coopération entre partenaires, mais aussi le respect d’autrui à travers l’arbitre et les adversaires (on joue contre mais aussi avec eux). Le combat collectif et les possibilités d’affrontement physique supposent le courage individuel et la solidarité, ce que Daniel Herrero décrit comme le fait de devoir « donner et partager dans le rude ». Accepter donc le choc et la chute pour démarquer un partenaire, conserver ou recouvrer la possession de la balle. L’intelligence tactique pour choisir les solutions individuelles et collectives les plus adaptées au rapport d’opposition du contexte momentané de jeu et la prise d’initiative pour sortir à bon escient des schémas de jeu préétablis. Le goût de l’effort et de l’activité de plein air, pour soutenir malgré la durée des matches, les aléas du score et les intempéries, donc effectivement à nouveau une certaine rudesse ou rusticité. La convivialité qui se manifeste après le match et constitue une véritable « troisième mi-temps », poursuite de la rencontre des autres à travers l’échange souvent festif.

A quelles conditions faire jouer les vertus éducatives du rugby

Comme toutes pratiques sociales, a fortiori lorsque celles-ci deviennent des enjeux lourds de profit (professionnalisation, marchandisation, spectacle sportif télévisuel, etc.), le rugby donne lieu aussi à des comportements dévoyés (tricherie, dopage, brutalité, intolérance, etc.), peu conformes aux finalités éducatives de l’école et aux visées plus générale de développement humain. L’utilisation du rugby dans une perspective éducative suppose donc, une attitude vigilante et critique par rapport aux différentes formes sociales et usages sociaux des pratiques susceptibles de servir de référence aux activités scolaires.Le rugby n’est pas formatif en soi ; mais il peut le devenir dans le cadre d’une stratégie d’enseignement éclairée et maîtrisée.

Celle-ci doit permettre de confronter le pratiquant à l’essence, la spécificité, l’authenticité de la pratique de référence (se sacrifier à travers le choc et la chute au bénéfice du partenaire, se jouer de l’adversaire sur sa dimension faible) dont on va se garantir par la mise en jeu d’un règlement adapté, réduit à quelques règles matérialisant l’esprit du jeu. La règle délimitant ici des degrés de liberté (et de contraintes) collectivement compris et acceptés pour faire jouer la dynamique du jeu et permettre l’engagement de chacun.

Elle doit favoriser l’appropriation de genres techniques socialement accumulés pour :
- choisir en contexte les réalisations motrices les plus adaptées à l’opposition,
- gérer au mieux ses possibilités athlétiques et ses émotions,
- analyser le jeu par la maîtrise des instruments conceptuels et matériels spécifiques,
- participer selon différents rôles sociaux à la vie du jeu (joueur, arbitre, conseiller),
et pour dégager progressivement son propre style de jeu, en fonction de ses goûts et des
ses possibilités.
La Coupe du Monde de Rugby, au-delà de l’impression superficielle
d’uniformisation du jeu, est l’occasion de constater à la fois des évolutions communes (temps de jeu augmentés, « athlétisation » des joueurs, organisation des défenses, etc.) et des traductions différenciées selon les nations .
Ce ne sont pas ainsi les mêmes phases de jeu, formes de jeu, utilisations des joueurs qui sont privilégiées par les uns et par les autres selon leur culture et leur conception de la préparation. Certaines nations vont s’appuyer principalement sur l’organisation en système de jeu a priori et ce sur la succession des différentes phases, tentant de pré-programmer la quasi-totalité de leurs actions, d’autres vont accorder plus d’importance aux adaptations tactiques en jeu aux aléas de celui-ci qui ne manquent pas de survenir.
L’enjeu étant sans doute de parvenir non seulement à un équilibre mais aussi à une articulation optimale entre organisation et adaptation. C'est-à-dire une formation à des systèmes de jeu constituant des trames de variance laissant des espaces aux adaptations tactiques, avec des retours possibles de ces dernières vers les systèmes.

lundi, février 01, 2010

Jeûne pour le sacerdoce

En ce dimanche de la Septuagésime, et alors que s'ouvre le cycle de Pâques, la Fraternité Saint-Pierre ouvre les inscriptions pour sa grande initiative de carême 2010 : offrir des carême au pape et à l'Eglise, pour le sacerdoce catholique.

Inscrivez-vous et faites connaître cette grande initiative :

Sermon for Septuagesima Sunday

For many are called, but few chosen!

This is a serious statement from Our Lord. Many theologians have reflected on these words but are also divided on this point. There is no doubt that, in this sentence, the chosen ones are the elects, the members of the triumphant Church who are saved in Heaven. Catholic Encyclopedia explains: There is some doubt as to whether it refers to mere membership, or to a more exalted degree. This distinction is important; if the word implies mere membership in the Church Triumphant, then the chosen ones, or those who will be saved, are few, and the non-members in the Church Triumphant are many; if the word denotes a special degree of glory, then few will attain this rank, and many will fail to do so, though many are called to it.

If we accept the first interpretation, then we can draw a terrible conclusion, which is that the great majority of men go to hell, with the danger that God may appear as a cruel and avenging God. The second term of the alternative is less frightening. It is not about being saved or reproved, but just about reaching a higher degree of glory in heaven. The danger here would be to consider God as a loving and tender God who cannot send anybody in hell, and who forgives everyone.

In matter of faith, which t is an important matter, because it is precisely a matter of salvation as we have seen it last Sunday, it is extremely important to be as much objective as we can and to not jump on immediate conclusions. Faith is nor a feeling neither a personal interpretation of God, but the act of the intellect assenting to a Divine truth owing to the movement of the will, which is itself moved by the grace of God. ( St Thomas) Now, we can give our assent to a Divine truth only if it has been revealed by God Himself. There are different degrees of assent based on different degrees of revelations or of authority. The highest degree is De fide divina et catholica that includes all the truths contained in the written words of God or tradition that have been taught by the ordinary or extraordinary teaching authority of the Church as divinely revealed. The denial of such a truth constitutes a sin of heresy as we said last Sunday.

Now, theology is a science as it proceeds from principles established by the light of a higher science. (St Thomas) In this case these principles are revealed by God. The principles have to be accepted by everyone, as they have been taught by God Himself, but not all the theological conclusions are object of faith.
In our present discussion, we know for sure that the number of the predestined is certain and can neither be increased nor diminished, as Saint Augustine says. The number of the elect is known, but only by God. The end of the world will come when this number will be complete. We also know that this number in itself is very great. Saint John saw a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and in the sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands. Yet, we do not know what this number is. Father Garrigou-Lagrange says: When we speak of men exclusively, we do not know, first of all, if among the worlds scattered in space the earth is the only one that is habitable. But if we restrict our question to men on our planet, the number of the elect remains a matter of controversy.

Many Fathers and Doctors think that those who are saved do not represent the greater number. Among them we can mention with Father Garrigou-Lagrange Saints Basil, John Chrysostom, Gregory Nazianzen, Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Leo the Great, Bernard, Thomas Aquinas. Then, nearer to our own times: Molina, St. Robert Bellarmine, Suarez, Vasquez, Lessius, and St. Alphonsus. We certainly have to highly value this opinion as it is the one of great theologians, Doctors and Saints. Yet we do not have to over-value it. All of these great theologians give this view as opinion, not as revealed truth, not as certain conclusion, Father Garrigou-Lagrange says.
With Father Monsabre, we can also say: Remark that Our Lord does not tell us definitely the number of the good and of the wicked. To those who demanded a clear pronouncement, He was content to reply: 'Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many . . . shall seek to enter and shall not be able.' The rigorists will tell me possibly that Jesus here hides the mystery of His justice, in order not to frighten timorous souls. As for myself, I prefer to think that He hides here the mystery of His mercy, that we may avoid presumption.

Finally, since the number of the elect remains unknown to us, let us conclude with Father Garrigou-Lagrange that since we cannot arrive at certitude in this question it is better to acknowledge our ignorance than to discourage the faithful by a doctrine which is too rigid, to expose them to danger by a doctrine which is too superficial. For each one of us, the important question is not how many will be saved, but rather, shall I be saved? The Council of Trent, quoting Saint Augustine, says: God never commands the impossible. But He warns us to do what we can, and to ask of Him the grace to accomplish what we of ourselves cannot do, and He aids us to fulfill what He commands. What I know for sure is that God gives me what I need to go to heaven. What would be the point of arguing on the number of the elect while you are even not working to become one of them? One day we will know this number. We would better know it, being in heaven rather than in hell.

May Our Lady of Prompt Succor help us to keep the Grace of God and to arrive safe in Heaven.