Wednesday, October 23, 2013

22nd Sunday after Pentecost (20th October 2013)

For St. Paul, charity without truth is “Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Mt. 22:21 on the liturgy, The Liturgical Year Vol. 11 comments on today’s liturgy: “According to Honorius of Autun, the Mass of to-day has reference to the days of the Antichrist. The Church foreseeing the reign of the man of sin (cf. II Thess. 2:3) and as though she were actually undergoing the persecution which is to surpass all others, takes her Introit of this twenty-second Sunday from the Psalm De profundis (cf. Ps. 129).” Gueranger, p. 455 In the Epistle (Philippians 1: 6-11) St. Paul alludes to “the day of Christ Jesus” Phil. 1: 6 and 1:10 which is the day at the end of time when Jesus will come in power to judge all the world. Dom Gueranger comments on what this means: “St. Paul, in the Church’s name, again invites our attention to the near approach of the last day. But what, on the previous Sunday, he called the evil day, he now,...calls twice over the day of Christ Jesus.” Gueranger, p. 457 According to Dom Gueranger in the last days, the loss of truth is the greatest peril: “The diminution of truth (cf. Ps. 11:2) is evidently to be a leading peril of the latter times; for, during these weeks (Pentecost) which represent the last days of the world, the Church is continually urging us to a sound and solid understanding of truth, as though she considered that to be the great preservative for her children....To-day in the Epistle, she implored of them to be ever progressing in knowledge and all understanding, as being the essential means for abounding in charity, and for having the work of their sanctification perfected for the day of Christ Jesus. The Gospel (Mt. 22: 15-21) comes with an appropriate finish to these instructions given us by the apostle; it relates an incident in our Lord’s life, which stamps those counsels with the weightiest possible authority, viz., the example of Him, who is our divine Model. He gives His disciples the example they should follow, when, like Himself, they have snares laid by the world, for their destruction.” Gueranger, p. 462-3 “And I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and all understanding...” Dom Prosper Gueranger in his book Phil. 1:9 the cause of darkness and error. Dom Gueranger tells us how important is the truth which is shown brightly in the light of Christian civilization: “The one ambition which rules and absorbs him (cf. Phil. 1:24-7) is that God, who has begun in them the work which is good by excellence, the work of Christian perfection such as we know had been wrought in the apostle himself, may continue and perfect it in them all, by the day, when Christ is to appear in His glory (cf. Col. 3:4). This is what he prays for, that charity, the wedding-garment of those whom he has betrothed to the one Spouse (cf. II Cor. 11:2), may beautify them with all its splendour for the grand day of the eternal nuptials (cf. Durand, Ration., vi 139). Now, how is that charity to be perfected in them? ...Charity, they say, is the queen of virtues; it makes them take everything easily, even lies against truth; to give the same rights to error as to truth is, in their estimation the highest point of Christian civilization grounded in love. They quite forget that the first object of charity, God who is substantial Truth, has no greater enemy than a lie; ...When Christianity first shone upon mankind, it found error supreme mistress of the world. Having, then, to deal with a universe that was rooted in death (cf. Mt. 4:16), Christianity adopted no other plan for giving salvation than that of making the light as bright as could be; its only policy was to proclaim the power which truth alone has of saving man, and to assert its exclusive right to reign over this world. The triumph of the Gospel was the result.” Gueranger, p. 457-9. This is why, as Dom Gueranger reminds us, the Church in today’s Epistle implores us to progress “in knowledge and all understanding...” Phil. 1:9, as being essential means of abounding in charity, and for having the work of their sanctification perfected for the day of Christ Jesus.” Gueranger, p. 462 All authority comes from God importance of today’s Gospel for Jesus’ disciples who will have to overcome the errors of the world: “It was the last day of Jesus’ public teaching; it was almost eve of His departure from this earth (Tuesday in Holy Week). His enemies had failed in every attempt hitherto made to ensnare Him; this last plot was to be unusually deep-laid. The Pharisees, who refused to recognize Caesar’s authority and denied his claim to tribute, joined Dom Gueranger tells us of the with their adversaries, the partisans of Herod and Rome, to propose this insidious question to Jesus: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? If our Lord’s answer was negative, He incurred the displeasure of the government; if He took the affirmative side, He would lose the estimation of the people. With His divine prudence, He disconcerted their plans. The two parties, so strangely made friends by partnership in one common intrigue, heard the magnificent answer, which was divine enough to make even Pharisees and Herodians one in the truth. But truth was not what they were in search of; so they returned to their old party quarrels. The league formed against our Jesus was broken; the effort made by error recoiled on itself, as must ever be the case; and the answer it had elicited, passed from the lips of our Incarnate Lord to those of His bride, the Church, who would be ever repeating it to the world, for it contains the first principles of all governments on earth. “‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s’ (Mt. 22:21): it was the dictum most dear to the apostles. If they boldly asserted that we must obey God rather than men (cf. Acts 5:29), they explained the whole truth, and added: ‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God....The will of God (cf. Rom. 8:1, 2. 5 & 6): there is the origin, there is the real greatness of all authority amongst men! Of themselves, men have no right to command their fellow-men.” Gueranger, p. 463-4 All law must conform to God’s will important truth which Jesus, truth itself (cf. Jn. 14:6), pronounced to the Jews: “But, in order that the law oblige, that is, be truly law, it is evident that it must be, first and foremost, comformable to the commands and the prohibitions of God, whose will alone can give it a sacred character by making it enter into the domain of man’s conscience. It is for this reason that there cannot be a law against God, or His Christ, or His Church. When God is not with Him who governs, the power he exercises is nothing better than brute force. The sovereign, or the parliament, that pretends to govern a country in opposition to the laws of God, has no right to aught but revolt and contempt from every upright man; to give the sacred name of law to tyrannical enactments of that kind is a profanation unworthy, not only of a Christian, but of every man who is not a slave.” Gueranger, p. 465. Modern Secular Society When the laws of God break down and nations legalize practices, like abortion, contraception, same-sex marriages, euthanasia, etc. then we have a society that is opposed to Jesus Christ and is in the beginning stages of the Antichrist (cf. I Jn. 2:3 and II Thess. 2:3). The Pharisees were forerunners of those future antichrists because they refused to believe in the teaching on the rights and duties that belong to the State (Caesar) and God (the Church). St. Paul reminded the Philippians “that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and all understanding...” Phil 1:9 As the laws of our modern secular society break down and people believe that because it is a law that they have a right to actions which are opposed to God’s law, then we have a society which is in danger of anarchy in this world and eternal perdition in the next. They have not heeded the words of today’s Epistle where charity has the understanding of truth: “....that you may approve the better things; be sincere and without offense unto the day of Christ.” Phil. 1: 10 “The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved” Part V by St. Leonard of Port Maurice Dom Gueranger reminds us the Our chronicles relate an even more dreadful happening. One of our brothers, well-known for his doctrine and holiness, was preaching in Germany. He represented the ugliness of the sin of impurity so forceful that a woman fell dead of sorrow in front of everyone. Then, coming back to life, she said, "When I was presented before the Tribunal of God, sixty thousand people arrived at the same time from all parts of the world; out of that number, three were saved by going to Purgatory, and all the rest were damned." O abyss of the judgments of God! Out of thirty thousand, only five were saved! And out of sixty thousand, only three went to heaven! You sinners who are listening to me, in what category will you be numbered?... What do you say?... What do you think?... I see almost all of you lowering your heads, filled with astonishment and horror. But let us lay our stupor aside, and instead of flattering ourselves, let us try to draw some profit from our fear. Is it not true that there are two roads which lead to heaven: innocence and repentance? Now, if I show you that very few take either one of these two roads, as rational people you will conclude that very few are saved. And to mention proofs: in what age, employment or condition will you find that the number of the wicked is not a hundred times greater than that of the good, and about which one might say, "The good are so rare and the wicked are so great in number"? We could say of our times what Salvianus said of his: it is easier to find a countless multitude of sinners immersed in all sorts of iniquities than a few innocent men. How many servants are totally honest and faithful in their duties? How many merchants are fair and equitable in their commerce; how many craftsmen exact and truthful; how many salesmen disinterested and sincere? How many men of law do not forsake equity? How many soldiers do not tread upon innocence; how many masters do not unjustly withhold the salary of those who serve them, or do not seek to dominate their inferiors? Everywhere, the good are rare and the wicked great in number. Who does not know that today there is so much libertinage among mature men, liberty among young girls, vanity among women, licentiousness in the nobility, corruption in the middle class, dissolution in the people, impudence among the poor, that one could say what David said of his times: "All alike have gone astray... there is not even one who does good, not even one." Go into street and square, into palace and house, into city and countryside, into tribunal and court of law, and even into the temple of God. Where will you find virtue? "Alas!" cries Salvianus, "except for a very little number who flee evil, what is the assembly of Christians if not a sink of vice?" All that we can find everywhere is selfishness, ambition, gluttony, and luxury. Is not the greater portion of men defiled by the vice of impurity, and is not Saint John right in saying, "The whole world – if something so foul may be called – "is seated in wickedness?" I am not the one who is telling you; reason obliges you to believe that out of those who are living so badly, very few are saved. But you will say: Can penance not profitably repair the loss of innocence? That is true, I admit. But I also know that penance is so difficult in practice, we have lost the habit so completely, and it is so badly abused by sinners, that this alone should suffice to convince you that very few are saved by that path. Oh, how steep, narrow, thorny, horrible to behold and hard to climb it is! Everywhere we look, we see traces of blood and things that recall sad memories. Many weaken at the very sight of it. Many retreat at the very start. Many fall from weariness in the middle, and many give up wretchedly at the end. And how few are they who persevere in it till death! Saint Ambrose says it is easier to find men who have kept their innocence than to find any who have done fitting penance.