Sermon for the 4th Sunday after Easter, May 19th 2019 – HER LAST WORD…
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
My dearly beloved in Our Lord,
Lately I was talking to someone. I mentioned that Lucifer opposed himself to God by saying: “Non serviam – I will not serve” (Jer 2,20). Modern man is not only saying this to God, I said, but rather he says to his Creator: “I will not think”. The other person replied: “Yes, but it is even worse, for they say: ‘I will not listen.’” And he is right.
“Faith then cometh by hearing”, St Paul writes to the Romans (10,17). But hearing means listening – and modern man is very little prepared to listen, except to irrelevant, distracting or sensational things! Does not Our Lord conclude the impressive parable of the rich man and Lazarus, by putting these words into Abraham’s mouth: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead” (Lk 17,31)?
Therefore anyone who is not prepared to listen, and to listen attentively, i.e. using his brains to reflect and to draw the conclusions deriving from what he has heard, is in the worst possible position to receive the great gift of Faith, the beginning of eternal life.
On the one hand, right now there is no teaching Authority to which one could listen… that is a problem.
On the other hand, people are generally too lazy to use their brains for the purpose for which they have it, i.e. to read the relevant “good old” books, or to search for reliable content wherever it is available – particularly on the internet.
But above all the greatest number of people flatly refuse to take the truth for what it is: objective – not depending on what we think or feel; and unchanging – not depending on or altered by the peripheral or epidermic changes “in the world as it has become”. This is a consequence of the fact that they won’t listen, and think properly.
Catholics in the present crisis expect everything from signs and wonders – at least there is a strong tendency in that direction. AB Lefebvre had a weak spot in this sense (San Damiano apparitions; Marthe Robin and her [pretended] stigmata), and one of the bishops consecrated by him has followed up outrageously on this. Many traditionalists basically ground their faith and their actions primarily on apparitions and not on sound theology.
My intention is by no means to downplay the great kindness of Our Heavenly Mother in her frequent visits to her distressed children! ‘If I forget her, let my right hand be forgotten. Let my tongue cleave to my jaws, if I do not remember her.’ (cf. Ps 136,5-6)
But I would like to remind you that Our Lady is very respectful of her divine Son and of the institution which he created for the salvation of our souls, Holy Church. How could it be otherwise? So instead of making bad or insufficient use of Our Lady’s kindness, why not go to the bottom of the question and get it right?
We just need to consider the LAST WORD Our Lady has spoken in the Gospel. It was on the occasion of the wedding at Cana in Galilee. After having put the dilemma of the newly-wed to her Son: “They have no wine”, she then admonished the servants: “Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.” (Jn 2,4.5.)
This is Our Lady’s last sentence related by any of the four Gospels: Do whatever he shall say to you. She has nothing to add to this her request, her order, her plea! And in none of her apparitions she said anything whatsoever that went beyond what had been said by herself, or by her divine Son.
Catholic theology has always distinguished private revelations from the public Revelation. The latter is closed with the death of the last of the Apostles. Private revelations may only be accepted by Catholics in as much as they have been acknowledged by the Church’s authority. The Church only recognizes private revelations if there is no contradiction with the public Revelation.
It is a historical fact that Our Lady in all her apparitions, visions, inspirations etc. granted to her children, is in total keeping with the teaching and actions of the Church’s Authority. If we take, for example, Our Lady’s appeal to the children of Fatima to say the Rosary daily, we find that this is by no means novel. Pope Leo XIII had written a number of encyclicals about the Rosary between 1883 and 1895. He had demanded that the Rosary be said in all parish churches, during the month of October, during the main Mass or during Benediction. Thus the Pope had preceded Our Lady’s insistent demand by 20-30 years.
In Lourdes Our Lady revealed her name to St Bernadette Soubirous, in 1858: “I am the Immaculate Conception”. The little girl had no idea what this meant, but she went and told the parish priest. He had asked that “the beautiful lady” say her name, to prove she was not a figment of Bernadette’s mind, or a diabolical illusion. So the parish priest explained that the Church had proclaimed Our Lady to have been immaculately conceived; but that one could not say that she is the Immaculate Conception. In this he was later proven wrong by competent theologians during the inquiry ordered by the Bishop. Our Lady may well be called the Immaculate Conception, and not only conceived without sin.
So we should be careful and zealous to serve Our Lady as she served her divine Son; and as she served the Church during the remaining years of her earthly life after his Ascension. (The people of Ephesus were particularly keen to hear the outcome of the Council held in this place, in the year 431, because Our Lady had lived there for a number of years and been their ancestors’ catechist…) Because our minds are infected by modern thinking, we tend to put up one reality against another, even if in reality there is no conflict. It is the same thing to practice some devotion, or to do penance, because Our Lady reminded us of this; or because it is the Church who constantly teaches us to do so, in keeping with the teaching of Our Lord. At the same time we can only be definitely certain that Our Lady has spoken, if the Church’s authority has approved this with regards to a given apparition. Therefore the true Faith of a Catholic is truly divine and truly ecclesiastical, and it is most important for us to keep this in mind.
Let us remember whatever Our Lady has spoken in the Gospel; but more particularly let us follow her last word which is like her testament to all true believers: “Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.”
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.