November 13, 2005
vol. 16, no. 287
Hope in the Midst of Trials
While things may look bleak in the temporal sphere, we can take assurance there is always hope in our voyage towards Heaven, no matter the chaotic waves lapping at the hull of Holy Mother Church, for Catholic truth assures us we can look to Our Lady as the steady rudder to steer us safely to her Divine Son Jesus Christ.
"The Church is the Kingdom of Heaven at its beginning. Like Noah's ark, the Church floats upon the waves of present worldly chaos, and those inside are carried safely to their heavenly destination. Unfortunately, millions of Catholics have lost sight of the true Church and are wandering around in spiritual darkness. The Church in our time has been eclipsed, as Our Lady foretold at La Salette. It has become unrecognizable, since it dresses itself in new garments styled by Vatican II. Even the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been changed into an unfamiliar ritual, and millions of Catholics throughout the world have been deprived of the true sacraments. Although the Church still survives in the hearts of those who have the true faith, for them it is a time of great anguish and confusion. But instead of yielding to despair over the chaos within the conciliar church, they must continue to hope."
Editor's Note: In Father Louis Campbell's sermon for the Twenty Sixth Sunday After Pentecost, he points to today's Gospel in illustrating hope that every Christian has been given if only they uphold all the Truths of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Only in the Church Christ founded can there be salvation as the thrice-defined dogma of the Church asserts: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. The prince of the world stirs up the waters of discontent and despair, churning hearts to reject the absolutes of the True Faith in favor of compromise and conformity to the world, the flesh and the devil. This is the case of every religion which has broken away from the main tree Christ planted in Matthew 16: 16-18. These branches which have separated themselves from the True Tree have,died, are decaying or will wither away because they are not divinely ordained and a man-made religion cannot last, cannot bear good fruit as Jesus asserts in Matthew 7: 15-20. Only the True Tree of Christ's Church continues to grow in the rich soil of Tradition,soaring towards Heaven, invigorated by the graces given by God to sustain it, even in these times when the murky, ink-like smog of Vatican II and anathema have clouded over - eclipsed, if you will - the True Church. By uncompromisingly upholding, preserving and persevering in the Sacred Deposit of Faith we can be assured we will always have hope. God has given Catholics an added advantage: His Own Blessed Mother as the beacon for us to stay on the right path, for she is the Gate of Heaven, Ark of the Covenant, Spiritual Vessel to safely convey us to the everlasting port of Heaven. [bold and italics below are editor's emphasis.]
In troubled times such as ours we need the virtue of hope. Not ordinary hope, the natural virtue, such as when we say: "I hope it doesn't rain," or "I hope the Astros win," but the supernatural virtue of hope of which St. Paul speaks: "So there abide faith, hope and charity, these three…" (1 Corinthians 13:13). We hope to attain the purpose for which we were created, which is to know God, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. Hope is a gift of God, one of the three theological virtues given through the Sacrament of Baptism. But it must be maintained.
People lose hope and become discouraged or give in to despair because the object of their hope seems difficult or even impossible to attain. But as the old saying goes, "As long as there is life there is hope." While we live there is hope of salvation. Only at the gates of Hell does one find written, as Dante describes in his Inferno: "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."
The enemy of true hope is to have a disordered trust in the things of this world rather than in the God Who gave them. The psalmist says:
"A king is not saved by a mighty army, nor is a warrior delivered by great strength. Useless is the horse for safety; great though its strength, it cannot provide escape. But see, the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for His kindness, to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine. Our soul waits for the Lord, Who is our help and our shield, for in Him our hearts rejoice; in His holy name we trust. May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who have put our hope in You" (Psalm 32:16-22).
Our peril is the greater because we have become so dependent upon technology. We need electric power for light, heat, air conditioning and refrigeration, and to run our cities and our places of business. We need power to run the pumps for our gasoline, without which we can't drive our cars to shop for food and other needs, and to bring the kids to school, and grandmother to the doctor. When the infrastructure breaks down we face catastrophe. The desperate plight of millions of Americans after Katrina and Rita, and lately Wilma, shows us how helpless we can become. The time is coming when many of the things we now take for granted will be taken away from us. What happened recently in France, and what happens on a regular basis in Iraq, shows us how close we are to chaos. If God is not in charge, chaos is the inevitable result.
To abandon hope of salvation while still in this world is the sin of despair, since while we live we have reason to hope. For those who are tempted to give up hope the Gospel today is good news. Our Lord says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a tiny grain of mustard seed that grows into a large tree, so that the birds of the air may dwell in its branches. There is plenty of room for all in the Kingdom, and we are all invited. The Kingdom of God is already with us, as Jesus explains to the Pharisees (Luke 17:20,21). We have only to enter it to be freed from the anxieties of this world.
The Church is the Kingdom of Heaven at its beginning. Like Noah's ark, the Church floats upon the waves of present worldly chaos, and those inside are carried safely to their heavenly destination. Unfortunately, millions of Catholics have lost sight of the true Church and are wandering around in spiritual darkness. The Church in our time has been eclipsed, as Our Lady foretold at La Salette. It has become unrecognizable, since it dresses itself in new garments styled by Vatican II. Even the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been changed into an unfamiliar ritual, and millions of Catholics throughout the world have been deprived of the true sacraments. Although the Church still survives in the hearts of those who have the true faith, for them it is a time of great anguish and confusion. But instead of yielding to despair over the chaos within the conciliar church, they must continue to hope.
"Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made Heaven and earth" (Psalm 123:8). But God does give us special help. There is one who comes to us in the name of the Lord bringing hope and consolation, the one whom we address as "Our life, our sweetness, and our hope," the Blessed Virgin Mary. Hear what some of the great doctors, saints and theologians have to say about devotion to this wonderful Mother:
- St. Ambrose: "Think often of the Blessed Virgin with love. Those who have received the grace to do so posses a great sign of predestination";
- St. Bernard: "In danger, anguish, or doubt, think of Mary and call upon her! Following her, you will never lose your way. Praying to her, you will never sink into despair. Contemplating her, you will never go wrong";
- St. Philip Neri: "My children, do you want to obtain perseverance? Then be devoted to our Blessed Lady";
- St. Louis de Montfort: "When the Holy Spirit finds Mary in a soul, He flies to it. He enters therein and communicates Himself to that soul in abundance";
- St. Anthony of Padua: "Blessed are those who cherish the name of Mary. Her favor will sustain them in the midst of trials, and they will bring forth fruits of salvation" (imagesofheaven.org).
St. Louis de Montfort, in his treatise on True Devotion to Mary, speaks beautifully of the devotion we must have to the Mother of God, and of the effects of that devotion:
"To Mary alone God gave the keys of the cellars of divine love and the ability to enter the most sublime and secret ways of perfection, and lead others along them. Mary alone gives to the unfortunate children of unfaithful Eve entry into that earthly paradise where they may walk pleasantly with God and be safely hidden from their enemies. There they can feed without fear of death on the delicious fruit of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They can drink copiously the heavenly waters of that beauteous fountain which gushes forth in such abundance. As she is herself the earthly paradise, that virgin and blessed land from which sinful Adam and Eve were expelled she lets only those whom she chooses enter her domain in order to make them saints" (ewtn.com/library/Montfort/TRUEDEVO.HTM).
Here we have the key that opens the door to Heaven. Those who are in need of hope and are tempted to despair must cultivate a true and fervent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Under her guidance and protection they will find their way to Heaven where they will be happy with God forever. "Take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the Lord" (Psalm 30:25).
Father Louis J. Campbell