Sermon for the Sunday after Easter, April 23rd, 2017
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen
My dearly beloved in Our Lord,
The Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus-Christ is the corner-stone of the Faith.
Christ had indeed predicted that he would die on the Cross – which he did. He had also foretold that he would rise again, and so he did, as the Gospel insists very much: The Angels add that Christ has risen as he had said.
Thus we want to use this occasion to briefly recall to our minds what Faith is. We want to do so in order to encourage each of you to make frequent acts of Faith. For it is not enough to profess the Faith, in principle, and to defend it from all corruption or detriment; one must also keep up and strengthen virtue, and first of all the virtue of Faith, by frequent virtuous acts.
A good act of Faith can be very succinct (short), as long as it contains all the essential elements. There are longer and more elaborate forms. Any of them is good, as long as it is used frequently.
A short act of Faith containing all the essentials, is the following:
“O God, I firmly believe all the truths which you have revealed and which you teach me through Holy Church, because you are the Truth, and because you can neither err nor induce us into error.”
– Faith must be firm, we must believe firmly the divinely revealed truth. Virtue by definition is something permanent and stable, it is the habit of doing something the right way. Its contrary is vice, which is a bad habit.
– This firmness comes from the divine authority which is the source of revelation. God is the Truth, purely and simply. It is His essence to be the Truth, just as He is the Light, or Charity, or the Life.
– God being the Truth implicates that He can never be wrong, or induce his creatures into error. For He is the infinitely perfect Being. So this excludes any kind of wrongness.
– Faith is comprehensive or universal, in the sense that it includes our adhesion to all revealed truths. The Truth is one and simple, in as far as it is in God. Being the un-created, simple Spirit, the Truth is undivided and simply in Him. But the created spirit – that of the Angels or of the human souls – is neither infinitely perfect nor infinitely simple. Therefore it cannot grasp the Truth “in one go”, but only as “bits and pieces”. Thus we speak of “the truths revealed by God”. This means: formally we accept the Truth by the act of Faith, God the source of the Truth; materially speaking we believe the revealed truths, all and each single one.
– The divine authority does not operate immediately or directly upon the human mind, but through the authority of Holy Church instituted by God through Jesus-Christ. Therefore the Catholic Faith is not a private affair in any way. All human souls are under the obligation to adhere to the revealed Truth; and this Truth is taught and guaranteed by the institution to which Christ has promised his assistance, right to the end of times.
Of course right now, the authoritative teaching faculty of Holy Church is not exercised in a live manner. Only a truly Catholic Pope and truly Catholic Bishops can teach with this authority which is called the Church’s magisterium, the teaching authority. The live or immediate rule of the Faith is absent. So the Catholics must fall back on the mediate or remote rule of the Faith, called the Apostolic Tradition or the deposit of the Faith.
Those who do not respect this distinction and its application, necessarily end up in the greatest confusion of mind. Many so-called traditionalists claim to adhere to the Apostolic Tradition all while recognizing as a truly Catholic (but weak, or erring, or wicked) Pope or Bishop those who only materially occupy those posts. Those occupants or impostors cannot claim to possess Christ’s authority, for their actions and words speak loudly against their claim to be Christ’s representatives. Recognizing them makes it impossible, in principle, for such traditionalists, to have the true Faith because practically, they claim that there is opposition between Christ as the head of the true Church guaranteeing the Truth, and Christ as God revealing the Truth. – It is not so difficult to understand, but maybe you need to ponder these things in your mind in order to truly grasp what they mean.
Other traditionalists go off-track by adhering to some pretended but false interpretation of Catholic dogma. In the absence of the daily magisterium of the Church teaching (Pope and residential Bishops or Ordinaries) it is virtually impossible to convince them that they are in error. Only Catholic common sense could help out – but it is scarce nowadays. Particularly those who hold on to an extravagant interpretation of the dogma “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus – No salvation outside the Church”, do not realize that in order to defend their position, they must make a very selective use of the Church Fathers, the Doctors of the Church and all other sources of Revelation. Nothing will do: They know better, and anyone not adhering to their doctrine (the justification of which is at least 30-50 pages long) is a “heretic” and must be avoided by all means.
Much of all this might be imputable to human pride, or to ignorance. But one must also admit that humanly speaking, some souls are just scared out of their wits once they discover that they cannot “rely on the pope or the bishop”. They can only put up with having been deceived so many times – and then it is once too often.
Christ clearly warned us against this extreme confusion that threatens to undermine the Faith: “For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you, beforehand.” (Mt 24,21-25)
The Catholic Faith, i.e. the divinely revealed Truth, is simple by nature. This also means that it is coherent. The act of Faith is still, and always will be possible to “the poor in spirit” who “possess the kingdom of Heaven” (cf. Mt 5,3). For Faith truly is the beginning of the heavenly life: It makes our soul to grasp, firmly and with certitude, but “seen as through a glass in a dark manner”, that which in Heaven we shall see “face to face” (cf. 1Cor 13,12).
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
If you would like a copy please find it here:sermon 170423EN S_after_Easter