Greatness Thrust Upon Them
"Attend to thyself and to doctrine: be earnest in them. For in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4: 15).
Editor's Note: We are bringing you Father's sermon he delivered last year for the 22nd Sunday After Pentecost. In Monday's issue, we hope to bring you his sermon he is giving this Sunday for the 22nd Sunday After Pentecost. In the following sermon, Father reminds us of the Apostle Paul's prophesy received from the Holy Ghost, "Now the Spirit manifestly saith, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils. Speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their consciences seared." (1 Timothy 4: 1-2). He calls on the virtuous and persecuted Catholics striving to preserve the precious Faith and uphold the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church to be "Children of the Light" citing the wise words of the renowned abbot Dom Gueranger.
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., who died in 1875, wrote his great work, The Liturgical Year, in the wake of the French Revolution, but he could have been speaking to us, who bear the burden of these difficult days. He comments on the Masses of the last Sundays of the Church's year, which deal with the end of the world and the Last Judgment:
Father Louis J. Campbell
"The diminution of truth is evidently to be a leading peril of the latter times; for, during these weeks 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."
As an illustration of what he says about these last Sundays we could go to the Gospel of today's Mass in which the Pharisees test Jesus:
"Master, we know that you are truthful, and that you teach the way of God in truth…" Of course, they were unwilling to accept the truth even when it was staring them in the face.
Dom Gueranger continues:
"When Christianity first shone upon mankind, it found error supreme mistress of the world. Having to deal with a universe that was rooted in death, Christianity adopted no other plan for giving it 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 the world. The triumph of the Gospel was the result."
So, truth - the truth of the Gospel - has an exclusive right to reign over this world. Dom Gueranger would have a hard time understanding why the church of Vatican II and the conciliar popes found it necessary to relinquish this exclusive right, and to acknowledge the equal rights of those who teach error, and why we now have "profound respect" for the philosophies of this world and the "doctrines of devils," to use a phrase from St. Paul (1Tim.4:1). He would have recognized it as one of the heresies that have had disastrous consequences for the Church in our time. Gueranger's words apply here as he laments what he saw happening even in his own time:
"But now, with the connivance of those whose Baptism made them, too, children of light, error has regained its pretended rights. As a natural consequence, the charity of an immense number has grown cold in proportion; darkness is again thickening over the world, as though it were in the chill of its last agony."
We certainly can resonate with that-charity has grown cold, faith has grown dim, the Church is in eclipse, as Our Lady foretold at La Salette.
What do we do? Jesus said we should let our light shine before men. Dom Gueranger has this advice for us:
"The children of light who would live up to their dignity, must behave exactly as the early Christians. They must not fear, nor be troubled: but, like their forefathers and the apostles, they must be proud to suffer for Jesus' sake, and prize the word of life as the dearest thing they possess; for they are convinced that, so long as truth is kept up in the world, so long is there hope for it. As their only care is, to make their manner of life worthy of the Gospel of Christ, they go on, with all the simplicity of the children of God, faithfully fulfilling the duties of their state of life, in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation, as stars of the firmament shine in the night."
And he offers this quotation from St. John Chrysostom:
"The stars shine in the night, they glitter in the dark; so far from growing dim amidst the gloom that surrounds them, they seem all the more brilliant. So will it be with you, if you are virtuous amidst the wicked; your light will shine so much the more clearly."
Well, I hardly recognize the above as a description of myself. Perhaps you are tempted to say, as I do: "Who, me? With all my faults and sins?"
I think we must get used to the idea that God just might have nowhere else to turn but to us and those of like mind, and may be depending upon us to uphold the light of truth in the deep darkness that surrounds us. It is an awesome responsibility. But remember, as someone once said:
"Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, others have greatness thrust upon them." Unworthy remnant though we be, this may just be our destiny.
May God grant us the grace to respond to such an exalted vocation! †
October 18-20, 2002
vol 13, no. 119
"Qui legit, intelligat" Father Louis Campbell's Sunday Sermons