from French by Doulgas Laudenschlager
In the name
of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
My dear friends,
Behold, here you are, back after your vacations; back from your
families to re-enter the Seminary. Apart from yourselves, it is
to the twenty or so of your confreres who will return at the end
of this week, since they have already made their retreat, and to
the new students who will arrive at the beginning of the month of
October, that I address these words: words of welcome, and words
which would also hope to signify that which you come to seek at
the Seminary; words which would hope to express to you that which,
for you, ought to be the essential in your ascent toward the priesthood,
or in the pursuit of the religious life which you have come to seek.
My dear brothers, for you as well the reminder of the place which
the mystery of the Cross ought to occupy in our spirituality, in
our Christian life, is of the greatest importance.
the history of the Church, the Saints souls truly desirous of deepening
their Christian life, of considering what God has done for us, the
great mystery of the love of God for our souls these souls
have always found the solution, and the means of increasing their
spiritual life and of giving it a profound reality, in the mystery
of the Cross. This was particularly so in the Christian Middle Ages;
and in our own day, one can still find the traces of this deep devotion,
this complete devotion of the soul to the mystery of the Cross.
It can be seen in the construction of those magnificent cathedrals,
those magnificent churches: the Cross dominates. It dominates the
altar. The Cross is the sign which serves to give the form to our
cathedrals, to our churches. The Cross is found at crossroads everywhere:
everywhere, the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ has been raised.
Saint Angela of Foligno, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Ignatius,
and Saint Bernard, among others, manifested in their writings, and,
I should say, in their flesh as well, the love that they had for
the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For, in fact, the mystery of
our sanctification, the mystery of our justification, cannot be
explained without the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
more than ever, we need to meditate upon this mystery, because at
all times, and particularly perhaps in our own age, man wants to
eliminate the Cross. He does not want to look at it; he does not
wish to have it before his eyes. Why? Because the Cross represents
sacrifice ... sacrifice. And yet it is only thereby by the
Cross, by sacrifice that the Christian soul can regain life.
"Mors mortua tunc est, " the liturgy says. "Death
did then die, when He died Who was the source of life." "Quando
mortua vita fuit." When He who is Life died, then death
itself died. Life triumphed. And that is the entire summary of the
spirituality of the Cross. We must die to ourselves to find life.
That is the spiritual life, that is our justification. Holiness
is nothing else! It is very simple indeed, summed up in two movements
of our soul: the hatred of sin and the desire of God. Die to sin
to live unto God. That is the Cross; it is nothing more than that!
It is the symbol of death to sin so as to live in God.
And there is
the entire explanation of the spiritual life, of our interior life.
We must ever pursue the sinfulness within us, and consequently sacrifice
ourselves: sacrifice ourselves, know how to die to ourselves, extinguish
our evil tendencies, our evil instincts, our desires of evil, our
desires to disobey God. We must know how to destroy them to live
in God, to liberate ourselves from sin. "Liberati a peccatis,
servi facti estis justitiae," says Saint Paul. Delivered
from your sins, you have become the servants of holiness, the slaves
of sanctity. "Servi facti estis justitiae."
Men speak today of 'liberation.' Everywhere they have this word
so much on their lips: liberation, liberation, liberation! What
liberation? Liberation from Our Lord Jesus Christ! They want no
more of Our Lord Jesus Christ; they want no more of His Cross! They
want no more of His sacrifice because His sacrifice reminds us that
we must sacrifice ourselves, that we must die to our sins to have
life. And that, men who seek rather their pleasure and their satisfaction
can neither see nor hear nor understand. They want nothing to do
with the Cross. And that is why so many crosses have disappeared
in our day.
shall we find a living Cross, the Cross ever filled with that charity,
with that holy spirit which we need to combat our evil tendencies
so as to live the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ? At the holy altar
in our churches in the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass! And that is why the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has
so much importance and has always been at the center of our sanctification,
at the center of the pre occupations of the Church. It is there
that we find Our Lord! This is not a Cross which is simply an historical
remembrance of the death of Christ. No, it is the living Cross.
Calvary renewed! The only difference between the altar and Calvary
is that, on Calvary, Our Lord offered a bloody sacrifice, and that,
on the altar, He offers Himself in an unbloody manner. That is the
only difference! It is truly Calvary that is renewed each time the
priest ascends to the altar and offers the Sacrifice of the Mass.
It is them that we must find the source of our sanctification: in
the Holy Mass.
And, all the words of the Liturgy express precisely this desire
of expiation, of the remission of sins. To expiate, to remit our
sins is one of the principal ends of Holy Mass. And even to expiate
the sins of the souls in purgatory! That is why the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass has such great efficacity for the souls in purgatory!
Alas, that is what the Protestants denied and still deny; that is
why priests ordained today; ordained recently, have a tendency to
deny. This is very serious.
We ought to
have the conviction that in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is found
the source of all graces which we can receive. And that is why we
have the need, why we feel the need of keeping the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass, of leaving it untouched, so precious
it is. For we would risk otherwise to cut off the source of our
graces. If we changed the spirit of the Sacrifice of the Man, and
if we came to make of it a simple communion, a simple thanksgiving,
a simple meal, we would cause this source of grace which is the
sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His sacrificial oblation, to
disappear. And that which the priest performs is a sacrifice; it
is a sacrificial action which the priest performs on the altar.
It is not only a recalling of the memory of the Last Supper or of
the memory of the Cross. Oh, no! It is much more than that! There
is unfathomable mystery in the Sacrifice of the Mass. That is why
we ought to be attached to it with our whole soul, with all our
heart: because it is there that we find indeed that which the love
of God has done for us ... that which the love of God has done for
For if there
is a testimony of the love of God for us, it is certainly Our Lord
Jesus Christ crucified on the Cross for us. What more could Our
Lord have done, what more could God have done, than immolate Himself
on the Cross for us, to redeem us from our sins? Shall we be insensible
to the sacrifice of Our Lord, of the Son of God? One can still find
marked on old crucifixes of another age these words: "Can you
say that I have not loved you, when you see Love carved upon this
Cross?" Love carved upon the Cross! That is the crucifix: love
manifested, love alive upon the Cross. Thus one can understand the
desire that all holy souls have felt ever to have the crucifix before
them, to find in the crucifix the support of their spirituality,
the source of their spiritual life.
And how those
souls desired to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; to participate
therein so as to re-live Calvary, to re-live what the Blessed Virgin
lived; and thus to unite themselves to the sufferings of Our Lord
Jesus Christ! Compassion Our Lady of Compassion is the patroness
of our religious. Why? Because Christian souls ought to suffer with
Our Lord. A soul that would not wish to suffer with Our Lord would
not be a Christian soul. And we should not only suffer with, but
also, as it were, think with Our Lord. That is to say, desire with
Our Lord to suffer for the remission of the sins of the world: all
the injuries; the sacrileges, the sins which are so numerous in
the world. And finally, we should complete the Passion of Our Lord
Jesus Christ. Saint Paul says this very thing: we ought to complete
in the flesh the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. And that we should
0h, it is a
desire that will cost us dearly ... that will cost us dearly, that
will make us suffer for if we wish to complete the Passion
of Our Lord Jesus Christ, it will be necessary to suffer with Him,
to be immolated with Him. And it would be too easy to say: "Since
I am a Christian, God will bless me and exempt me from all suffering.
I shall lead a life without suffering, without sacrifice, because
I love God, God must love me, and therefore the Good Lord should
certainly not want me to suffer!" That is, indeed, poorly to
comprehend the mystery of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
If Our Lord has shown us the example of suffering, then on the contrary,
we should almost have the desire to suffer with Him, the desire
to sacrifice ourselves with Him! And when the thorn of pain pierces
us, we should be happy, and find in this sacrifice our joy, our
happiness, in associating ourselves as God wants us to associate
ourselves to the Passion of His Son for the redemption of
the world and for the redemption of our sins. Is this not but another
mark of love from God, His desire that we be united in suffering
with Our Lord Jesus Christ?
That is the
Christian life; that is the Catholic teaching. That is our faith,
the object of our faith, the reality of our faith. That is what
all Christian generations have understood: those generations of
holy fathers and mothers of families who suffered, who suffered
in a Christian manner; who accepted their sufferings, who accepted
their difficulties with joy; who were examples to their children.
In suffering and in pain, they knew how to support it with Our Lord
Jesus Christ. These were the generations of Christian families which
bore so many vocations. It was in that that vocations were born:
in the example which their parents could give of knowing how to
live with Our Lord Jesus Christ, to suffer with Our Lord Jesus Christ,
to pray with Our Lord Jesus Christ; to assist at the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass with such faith, with such piety, in the spirit of self-oblation
as victims with Our Lord Jesus Christ.
it is, this Christian, this Catholic doctrine! How completely it
transforms our life! How completely it transforms our life here
below! And it is that which prepares us for life eternal "O
crux, ave, spes nostra!" We refer to the Cross as our hope,
for in fact, the Cross is only a road, a way: the way to eternal
life, to glory. But it is necessary to pass by way of the Cross!
One must take up the Cross and bear it after Our Lord to arrive
at eternal life. This via crucis should be ours throughout the course
of our life so as to arrive at life eternal.
There, my dear
friends: there is our faith. That is what you should be pursuing
here. You should have the Cross ever before your eyes. Your most
precious desire should be to assist at, to participate in the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass. It should be this that fills your heart,
your soul, with that balm that causes all the little difficulties
you may have in your studies, with your health, in the difficulties
of community life that causes all that to disappear before the joy
that you have to unite yourselves with Our Lord Jesus Christ, before
the joy that you have to live with Our Lord Jesus Christ; before
the thought that, one day, God willing, you will ascend to the altar
and will offer the Sacrifice of Our Lord; that you will renew the
sacrifice of Calvary and that you will offer yourselves as well
as victims with Our Lord on the altar for the redemption of the
sins of the world; that you will preach this doctrine of the Cross,
that you will preach Jesus and Jesus Crucified; as Saint Paul says.
Saint Paul had no other preaching "nisi Jesum et Jesum crucifixum."
That was the preaching of Saint Paul. It will also be, I am sure,
your own preaching. And as model of this participation, you will
present to the world the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Compassion.
In the name
of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Regina Coeli House
2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64109
Vol. XV, No.
9, Sept. 1992