August 15, 2004
vol 15, no. 165

Like Mother, Like Sons

by Father Lawrence Smith

Editor's Note: With Father Louis Campbell on a well-deserved vacation to his native Nova Scotia, Father Lawrence Smith has provided a sermon for the Feast of the Assumption this year. Father Campbell's sermon from last year for Assumption can be accessed at Blessed Mary Ever Virgin

    "These promises should fill us with joy. We are not left orphaned! The world can not overcome us! Sin and death are pinioned to the Cross, and man is set free by the Truth Who is Jesus! What has been promised is being fulfilled: God is the victor in Christ Jesus, Who has sent His Spirit to protect and guide His Church, who is blessed with all grace to guide the children of God as their Mother, in keeping with the model of all Motherhood, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Angels and Saints, the Mother of God, and our beloved Mother!"

    I begin with an apology: Please forgive me for inflicting a poem on you. It is called: Advice to a Child Seen at a Distance Walking in the Park

    Loosen slowly, little son,
    thy hand from Mother's gentle hold;
    each day thy rest and waking
    sweetly at her bosom taking
    is thy haven safe to run
    from lust for girls or fleeting gold.

    Thus the eye of folk like me
    shall not be darkened by the sight
    of youth by pride made bolder
    to be wise ere getting older;
    grace us that we find in thee
    the Star that guides through aging's night.

    Guard against becoming part
    of aught that might make Mother weep:
    ne'er miss the Mass on Sunday,
    nor Confession on First Friday,
    and each promise always keep
    else broken trust break Mother's heart.

    Too, thyself from sadness spare
    by hoarding not what's called thine own,
    for God has given any
    talent, gift, and all the many
    blessings granted ev'ry prayer
    that begs not for himself alone.

    Hearken closely to this rede
    from one whose hand so yearns to know
    again the warmth that Mother
    offers as can no one other:
    love that like the mustard seed
    will past forever's end still grow.

    Modern man is like the foolish child who thinks he has outgrown Mother's care. Like the little boy straining at his Mother's hand to run off and explore the park alone, modern man would like to wrench his hand free from the gentle but firm grip by which the Blessed Mother is guiding him home. Mankind wants a false freedom to tear away from the direction and protection that the Mother of God offers in and through our Mother the Church.

    The little boy trying to get away from his Mother imagines that the park is merely a garden of delights. He wants to swing on the swings, dash through puddles, play with other children, eat cotton candy, and stay out after dark. It can not occur to him that there is more to the park than fun.

    Little boys don't fear skinned knees. They don't worry about catching colds or getting stomachaches. It is futile to explain that there are dangers from which they are guarded so well that little boys don't even know they exist.

    What's more, the child can't conceive of what it takes to build a park. He hasn't any idea that the grass his bare feet love so much is mowed thanks to the taxes his father pays every year. As far as the child is concerned, policemen are just a friendly part of the décor in the park, whose only use is for smiling and waving and looking like what every boy wants to be when he grows up.

    But Mother knows better.

    She knows that little boys fall down and sometimes get hurts that require a lot more than a Mom's kiss can cure. She knows that every little boy comes equipped with eyes bigger than his stomach, but whose stomachaches feel as big as if he had swallowed the whole moon, not just three moon pies. She knows that the friendly officer has to be on duty because not every adult is every little boy's friend.

    And good Moms don't even try to explain all of this to their children. They say, "No!" when they have to. They holler across the monkey bars. They come running when they're called. And they hold on to those little hands far longer than the little brains think they should, but long enough so that the little ones have a chance to get big. And good Moms don't mind being the meanest Mom in the whole world.

    The Blessed Virgin Mary is a good Mother. The best, in fact. She gives us the precious gift of her only Son. She encourages us, "Do whatever He tells you!" She goes to the Cross with Him, for us. And she holds our hands as we fold our hands and pray the Rosary. She stands by us when we need to beat our breasts in contrition for our sins. She kneels and prays when we don't because we, her children, have begged her time and time again, "Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen!"

    The Blessed Virgin is a good Mother, but her children are often spoiled brats. We neglect her until we want something. We demand to share in her blessings, while refusing to share in her sanctity. We claim her Son as our brother, but deny any connection to her other children, the children of God, our brothers and sisters.

    Jesus, Mary, and Joseph formed a family entirely devoted to the will of God. They embraced poverty, chastity, and obedience within Holy Matrimony. Respectful of human authority, they fulfilled their earthly roles through perfect commitment to their citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    This is the example to which we are called by the Cross of Christ. It is not enough that we go to Mass every Sunday, confess our sins sacramentally, pray our Rosaries, reject divorce and contraception, and love our Mother the Church. The Sacraments, prayer, and moral goodness are the roots of the new Tree of Life, at the roots of the Cross. But once those roots are well planted in our hearts, we must allow them to bear fruit in sanctity.

    Mary is our Mother. She wants to protect us from the evil of the world. She wants us to be like her in being like her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

    That means to set aside the seduction of the "good life" this world offers. The Holy Family was poor in money, but rich in grace. Our desire for sacramental grace is meant to lead to a manifestation of the Beatitudes. We are called to show the world the blessedness that comes from being poor, pure, and persecuted. The great saints of the Church, and Mary as the foremost example, not only accepted poverty, chastity, and sacrifice in the Name of Jesus. To be poor, pure, and persecuted are the glories of the Kingdom of Heaven which the saints pursued, proclaimed, and praised as gifts granted by our merciful Father.

    The Apostles left their scourging at the Sanhedrin giving thanks for being found worthy of ill treatment for the sake of the Name of Jesus. St. Lawrence laughed at torture and made jokes about his execution, so filled with joy as he was to be able to die in Christ. Pope St. Pius V spoke of the five marks of the authentic Church: one, holy, catholic, apostolic, and persecuted.

    Our Blessed Mother endured seven swords piercing her Immaculate Heart. She stood as witness, bearing a martyr's suffering, at her Son's Cross on Calvary. She patiently accepted being parted from Him at His Ascension.

    St. Paul tells us that even now we are making up in ourselves what is lacking in the Cross of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church. We have the privileged obligation to undergo His Passion as our own lives are united to His death. Our suffering is both spiritual and physical.

    It is spiritual suffering as we groan awaiting the redemption of our mortal bodies. We pine restlessly until we rest in the loving arms of our Lord and God. We miss our Mother, whose Assumption into Heaven we now are celebrating. We rejoice greatly that the Daughter of Zion is taken home, but we lament profoundly that we are left behind in this vale of tears.

    Our suffering is physical as we are beset by hunger and thirst, concupiscent lust, the trammels of aging, disease and injury, and the inescapable reality of death. We confront on a daily basis the infinite offense against God and the damage done to ourselves, each other, and all creation by our sins. We hurt ourselves yet further by forgetting the Cross, disobeying our Faith, and falling into fear of the world's hatred and not fearing the loss of God and His just punishment for our faithlessness.

    Jesus has ascended and Mary exults in her Assumption. It is an easy temptation to feel abandoned. We could fall further and fool ourselves into thinking that our Father and Mother no longer care or watch over us. Modern man is in real peril of falling completely and believing that our Lord's Ascension and our Lady's Assumption are actually absences. An absence in which the modern inclination is to deny God's will on earth, and, thus, to reject His offer of being with Him forever in Heaven.

    Even now the one and true Church, Roman Catholicism, must face the question of our fidelity to God's unchanging Providence. As a whole and individually we need to meet head on the question asked by our Lord: "When the Son of man returns, will He find any Faith upon the earth?" Many are called, few are chosen. It is not we who choose Christ, but Christ Who chooses. We did not merit salvation by loving God, but God's love for us moves Him to save us.

    Now that God's offer of eternal life is made, are we accepting or rejecting that offer? The answer lies wholly in the lives we offer God on earth. If on earth our life is unrepentantly sinful, God will reject us and send us to hell. If the repentant sinner dies in Christ, God will raise him on the last day to new life in Christ forever.

    Our Blessed Mother made her way to Heaven by following Christ, her Son. Mary is the first and best disciple. To find Mary is to find Jesus, for the Mother is never separated from the Son. Jesus never wants to let loose His hand from the hand of His dear Mother.

    Thus, if we follow after Christ, we will find the footsteps of our Mother ever before us. She will show us the way to the Way, teaching us to say with her, "Be it done in me according to Thy word!" And in echoing the Blessed Virgin we will echo her Son: "Not my will, Father, but Thy will be done!" If we look for Jesus in Bethlehem, there is the Virgin Mary ahead of us. If we seek the Lord on Calvary, there is His Mother at His feet. If we desire to be with our Savior in Heaven, we will see the Queen of the Heavenly host enthroned beside her King!

    No one can claim to love the Father who does not love the Son. No one can claim to have found Jesus if he does not find and love His Mother. No one loves the Mother of God who does not love the Church of God founded on St. Peter, the Roman Catholic Church.

    The way from earth to Heaven is walked by those who follow Christ and only Christ. Those who follow Christ will always have the comfort, protection, and guidance of the first person to know Jesus, His Blessed Mother Mary. He has given her to us to serve us as she served Him: in proclaiming the glory of the Lord and rejoicing in the God Who saves!

    And here our profoundest hope is realized. At Fatima our Lady promised that her Immaculate Heart will triumph. Jesus promised that the gates of hell can not prevail against His Church. Our Father promised that the enmity of the devil would be crushed under the foot of Mary through her Son, Jesus Christ.

    These promises should fill us with joy. We are not left orphaned! The world can not overcome us! Sin and death are pinioned to the Cross, and man is set free by the Truth Who is Jesus! What has been promised is being fulfilled: God is the victor in Christ Jesus, Who has sent His Spirit to protect and guide His Church, who is blessed with all grace to guide the children of God as their Mother, in keeping with the model of all Motherhood, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Angels and Saints, the Mother of God, and our beloved Mother!

    Today we celebrate her personal triumph as she is assumed into Heaven. Through prayer, fasting, and fidelity to the immemorial teachings of the changeless Church, we look forward to the final triumph of her Immaculate Heart in union with our Lord's Most Sacred Heart, when the devil and his angels and all the damned are cast into the eternal fires of hell; and the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels, and the Saints are exalted in glory before the Lamb and before the Throne of God for ever and ever. Amen! Alleluia!

Father Lawrence Smith
Sacerdos vagus

August 15, 2004
vol 15, no. 165
The Sanity of Sanctity