Dear fellow Catholics,
I the absence of Mass this week please find Fr. Trauner’s Sermon for this Sunday:
Today we behold Our Lord how he shows his three chosen Apostles a glimpse of who he really is. His person is not a human one, but the second divine Person, the Son of God: “God from God, light from light, true God from the true God.” (Mass, Credo)
As different as this episode is from the one we contemplated last Sunday – Christ’s threefold temptation by the devil – one essential point which Holy Church wants to drive home to our minds is exactly the same.
While he came down from the mountain of the Transfiguration, Christ told his disciples to tell no one about their vision until he rises from the dead. This teaches us that in the person of Christ, in his mind those two realities were never separated: his death and his glorification.
Of course we must keep Christ’s true condition in mind in order not to get confused.
He is – as we have just mentioned – a divine Person, the Son of God. As such he naturally possesses the divine nature. Under this aspect the divine glory and beatitude is essentially his, and it could never be taken from him or diminished.
To this divine nature, he has added a complete human nature – body and soul – in the Incarnation. Under this aspect he has become like one of us, likely to us in all things except sin. His human soul possesses the divine vision from the moment it has been united to the divinity. But still this human nature remains capable of suffering and even dying: The human soul and body will effectively be separated from each other on Good Friday, although each of them will remain united to the divinity.
In other words: In order to redeem the human race, God willed that Christ not only become man, but also that he should die on the Cross and rise again. In this way our redemption was well and truly earned from the Father; and Christ obtained yet another title of glory for himself, i.e. the glorification of his entire human nature in his Resurrection and glorious Ascension where he established it at the right hand of the Father.
Many today believe that the redemption of their soul has been worked by Christ; and that therefore there is nothing for them to do but to trust in him. This is basically the belief of all Protestants, and it has been so for 500 years. This error has been around for longer than Luther’s unfortunate appearance and heresy. It is very human, very practical and simplifying to cast the whole business of the salvation onto Christ: This excuses the human being from any true effort regarding its redemption. No good works, no effort to practice virtue. It is diabolically simple.
But Christ and God do not only want us to do something. Normally, in the case of a person who has come to the age and use of reason, not only a once-and-for-all effort of conversion is necessary; but a constant effort with many repeated acts of virtue.
This becomes apparent by the fact that God has chosen to leave us with certain sequels of sin, even once our soul has been justified by the grace obtained by his Son on the Cross. A constant effort is necessary to go against our evil inclinations, just as a constant effort is necessary to man to keep standing and walking upright. The work done by joints and muscles in the human body can be compared to the work done by the soul through the practice of virtue.
Naturally speaking by the law of gravity, every object tends to a state of lesser energy: the stone drops to the ground as soon as it can; snow rushes down the hill in an avalanche if it can; wine turns into vinegar if it is not properly kept; a person who has been bed-ridden for weeks needs to learn again how to walk because the muscles have disappeared to a certain degree. A similar law exists for the soul. It is inclined towards evil from birth, and so there must be a constant effort put into keeping it from falling into sin. The mind needs to be informed about that which is true; the will must embrace the truth as its good, etc.
The error of Protestantism is based on a very human fact: We want to do as little as possible. This is just another effect of sin. It is in the mind as ignorance: We have no just idea about the gravity of sin. It is in the will: This diminished insight into the true nature of sin keeps us from wanting to do penance seriously.
Holy Church, as the best of mothers, is educating our minds and bodies so that they be fit to contribute to the formation of the Mystical Body of Christ. Since it is clear that few are fit to do penance always, she alternates times of penance and times of relaxation. This pattern we must follow and make our own, as unpleasant as we might find it for a start.
Holy Church also proposes to our contemplation and imitation those Christians who have made themselves perfect, by cooperating with God’s grace: the Saints. In their case we see something rather paradoxical: Whereas they appear to us as accomplished in virtue, they considered themselves to be great sinners, all the way through. But those two realities must necessarily grow together: The practice of true virtue; and the awareness of one’s sinfulness. One of the last verses of Holy Scripture says: “There shall not enter into it (the holy city of the heavenly Jerusalem) any thing defiled…” (Apc 21,27) The more a Christian soul progresses in virtue, the more it recognizes how unclean and defiled it still is in the eyes of God.
Remember the holy Curé of Ars, St John Mary Vianney. At one stage he asked God to show him the state of his soul as it was before Himself. He obtained this grace. After a short time he had to ask God again to take away this sight from him because it was so terrible. And what a Saint he was…!
Remember the truly wise man. After a life-time spent on learning true knowledge he ended up saying: “Scio me nihil scire. – I know that I know nothing.” How right he was…!
“Without me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15,5) This inflicts a profound wound on our pride; but it is balm for our Christian soul that we can and must rely on God’s grace in order even to co-operate towards that which is good and profitable for eternity. “I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.” (Phil 4,13)
So let us set our minds and hearts firmly on doing penance:
The penance prescribed by Holy Church in her laws – as far as each individual is fit to do so. (Please put your questions to the priest if you encounter any trouble in that area!)
The penance of our duty of state. This is the essential penance, and it is with us every day.
Voluntary penance for our own sins, and also for the sins of so many who do not care to do penance.
Let all this be done in charity, so that the Mystical Body of Christ rises to its full measure.
If you wish to take your own copy please find it here:sermon 170312EN 2nd lent