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dimanche 31 août 2014

Abbé Grosjean : "Les jeunes catholiques ne sont pas prisonniers de nos vieux clivages" - Catholicisme - La Vie

propos recueillis par Henrik Lindell

Créé le 27/08/2014 / modifié le 27/08/2014 à 14h33

© Stéphane OUZOUNOFF/CIRIC
© Stéphane OUZOUNOFF/CIRIC

Le Père Pierre-Hervé Grosjean est à la tête d'Acteurs d'avenir, une association qui organise des sessions de formation sur l'engagement pour les jeunes étudiants. Il dit ici, avec franchise, sa compréhension de ces jeunes croyants qui s'engagent politiquement au nom de leur foi.

Pour la cinquième année consécutive, vous réunissez à Fontainebleau 200 jeunes pour une session consacrée à l'engagement dans la société. Quel est leur profil ?

Ils ont entre 20 et 25 ans. La plupart sont étudiants. Ils ont souvent déjà un engagement. Beaucoup sont des chefs scouts. Ils ont souvent fait de l'humanitaire et ils ont généralement participé à la mobilisation pour la famille. Ils sont conscients qu'ils ont beaucoup reçu par leurs études et qu'on leur demandera beaucoup. Ils veulent donc beaucoup donner. Ils feront leur métier d'une façon engagée et ils n'imaginent pas des réussites individualistes.

Que leur proposez-vous ?

Nous voulons leur offrir la possibilité de rencontrer des grands décideurs qui mènent des vies engagées. Je pense en effet que les jeunes ont besoin de figures qui montrent qu'une vie unifiée est possible. Ils ont un grand désir de cohérence, car ils assistent souvent au spectacle d'une élite qui a des convictions très faibles. Ils ont besoin qu'on leur montre que leurs convictions chrétiennes ne vont pas les brider, mais donneront au contraire un sens à leurs engagements.

Quels sont les enseignements dispensés à Acteurs d'avenir ?

Le cœur d'Acteurs d'avenir, c'est le partage d'expériences entre décideurs d'aujourd'hui et décideurs de demain. Mais il y a aussi des interventions de théologiens, de philosophes et du cardinal Philippe Barbarin. Ils apportent un regard complémentaire sur un thème abordé par des décideurs. Les jeunes découvriront ainsi que les théologiens peuvent dire des choses intéressantes sur la crise financière, le bien commun, etc. On veut leur offrir une colonne vertébrale intellectuelle et spirituelle solide.

Pourquoi, au fond, avez-vous créé Acteurs d'avenir, alors qu'il y avait déjà d'autres initiatives catholiques sur l'engagement politique ?

En tant que prêtre, j'ai constaté que les jeunes pensaient souvent qu'il était difficile de concilier leur volonté de découvrir le monde dans leurs grandes écoles, leur envie d'entreprendre et de prendre des responsabilités et ce qu'ils pensaient comprendre de l'évangile ou ce qu'on leur disait à l'église. Comme s'il fallait choisir entre les deux. Donc soit ils devenaient schizophrènes, soit des chrétiens du dimanche.
Il fallait donc leur montrer que leur foi chrétienne n'est pas un boulet qui pourrait les brider, mais une chance qui leur donne un fondement.
Deuxièmement, je voulais que l'Eglise sache repérer, accompagner et encourager ces jeunes généreux qui avaient beaucoup reçu. Si on veut demain des dirigeants qui aient un vrai souci de la dignité de la personne humaine et un vrai sens éthique, c'est dès maintenant qu'il faut les préparer.

Selon vous, comment l'intérêt pour le politique évolue-t-il chez les jeunes catholiques ces dernières années ?

Deux choses me frappent. La première est la forte mobilisation pour la famille. Beaucoup de jeunes catholiques se sentent responsables d'un modèle où la famille est comprise et respectée avec la complémentarité père-mère, où la vie est accueillie et respectée dans toutes ses dimensions. Cet héritage dont ils sont porteurs les engage. Ils savent que s'ils ne s'impliquent pas pour défendre le modèle de société auquel ils sont attachés, il peut disparaître. Moi, je vois ces jeunes comme une « minorité créative », dont parlait Benoît XVI. Ils ont compris que l'Histoire pourrait se faire sans eux. Maintenant, ils veulent faire l'Histoire. Je pense aux Veilleurs. Ils ont montré que quelques-uns peuvent faire trembler un pouvoir politique et médiatique et interpeller toute la société. Sans tomber dans l'extrémisme ou la violence.
Deuxièmement, je trouve les jeunes assez libres par rapport aux systèmes partisans. Ils n'aiment pas la logique des partis et ils sont imperméables aux petits arrangements politiciens. Ils ont une attente de figures qui sauront les comprendre et auprès desquelles ils sont prêts à s'engager. En cela, ils sont différents de leurs aînés.

Selon un lieu commun, Acteurs d'avenir rassemble surtout des catholiques de droite. Est-ce vrai ?

J'ai toujours tenu à ce qu'on entende des représentants de couleurs politiques différentes. L'année dernière, on a invité Dominique Potier, député PS. Il a débattu avec Philippe Gosselin, de l'UMP. Cette année, nous avons invité Jean-Philippe Mallé du PS et Jean-Frédéric Poisson du PCD (UMP).
Je peux même vous dire que beaucoup de jeunes ont été positivement impressionnés par Dominique Potier, parce qu'il a su résister au courant majoritaire au sein de son camp qui a défendu le mariage pour tous. Les mêmes sont enthousiasmés par Jean-Frédéric Poisson qui résiste à ceux qui sont favorables au travail dominical dans sa famille politique. L'esprit partisan s'estompe ainsi.
Encore une fois, les jeunes catholiques donnent la prime à la cohérence et à la conviction. Pour cette raison, le PS pose parfois problème car le courant libertaire en son sein est de plus en plus fort. Des chrétiens de gauche le disent eux-mêmes. Par ailleurs, le courant libéral-libertaire dépasse lui aussi le clivage gauche-droite.

Vous êtes donc optimiste ?

Je suis plein d'espérance. La situation est stimulante. L'Histoire se fait avec des minorités créatives. Cette idée de Benoît XVI n'a jamais été aussi vrai pour nous catholiques en France. L'enjeu est immense. Les jeunes sont libres et décomplexés. Si l'Eglise sait être au rendez-vous pour enthousiasmer ces jeunes, ils sauront s'engager.

Sur le plan de la pratique religieuse, quelle est la culture de ces jeunes ? Plutôt classiques, tradis, charismatiques ?

Nos jeunes ne sont pas prisonniers de nos schémas ecclésiaux dans lesquels nous perdons parfois notre temps. Ils se baladent entre tradis et charismatiques. Leurs attachements transcendent les clivages. J'ai pu constater que ce sont les mêmes jeunes qui vont à la messe tradi de Chartres, à la messe charismatique à Paray et à celle de Hautecombe du Chemin Neuf et à la messe classique à Lourdes. Ils sont libres.
Le vrai clivage n'est pas entre tradis et charismatiques, mais entre ceux qui prennent le tournant du christianisme identifié et décomplexé et ceux qui restent dans l'Eglise des années 80 où il faut s'excuser d'être chrétien.

Certains catholiques ont peur de ces jeunes si engagés, si tranchés.

Là, il faut être clair. Les catholiques pratiquants qui pensent que leur engagement est basé sur leur foi sont ceux qui sont descendus dans la rue l'année dernière. Beaucoup d'évêques, comme le cardinal Barbarin, ont su descendre avec eux et s'adresser à eux, tout en les aidant à discerner. Il est vrai que certains évêques, comme par exemple Mgr Simon, étaient sur la réserve, critiquant ces manifestants. En ce qui concerne mon évêque de Versailles, Mgr Éric Aumonier, il a constaté que ces jeunes sont ardents dans leurs convictions et généreux dans leur mobilisation. Il a souhaité leur parler, non pour les brider, mais pour servir leur engagement.
Au fond, on ne fait que suivre l'exemple des différents papes, de Jean-Paul II à François. Le rôle de l'Eglise est de savoir aider ces jeunes laïcs à prendre conscience de leur mission et à les accompagner. Ils sont demandeurs. Ils feront sans ceux qui ont peur d'eux ou qui pensent qu'ils sont trop ceci ou trop cela.

Qu'avez-vous appris de ces jeunes ?

L'Eglise doit se laisser bousculer par cette génération qui monte et qui est généreuse. Les vocations sont là ! Les laïcs engagés sont là, ainsi que les responsables des manifs et les fondateurs des Veilleurs. L'année dernière, Madeleine Bazin de Jessey participait à notre séminaire. Cette année, elle revient comme intervenante. Les décideurs chrétiens de demain se préparent là. Ils assument un christianisme décomplexé, engagé, qui veut peser. Ils veulent reprendre la main et peser dans les débats. Bien sûr, je vois aussi leur impétuosité, leur ardeur, leur imprudence. Mais au lieu de leur dire ce qu'il faut faire, il faut peut-être se demander où souffle l'Esprit, comme dit le Concile, et essayer de comprendre les signes des temps. Ils ont besoin de pasteurs qui ne sont pas tièdes, qui savent parler à leur générosité et à leur désir de s'engager. Ils cherchent des pères et des chefs qui les font grandir, qui leur disent : « vas-y, sois vrai, forme-toi, n'aie pas peur. »

Mais, encore une fois, tous les catholiques ne partagent pas votre discours. Cet enthousiasme ne risque-t-il pas d'accentuer certains clivages ?

Non. D'abord parce que le discours de ces jeunes est celui du pape. La grande majorité des évêques français se sont engagés sur la même ligne. Cela ne veut pas dire qu'il faut ignorer ceux qui sont dans la périphérie. C'est le rôle des prêtres de faire la communion. Mais ce n'est pas en demandant aux jeunes catholiques de se brider ou de tenir un discours consensuel qu'on parle le mieux à la jeunesse. Le pape François n'est pas un pape de consensus. Il parle clair et il parle au cœur et à l'intelligence. Ne demandons pas à ces jeunes de se renier et de s'excuser de croire vraiment à ce qu'ils font et de s'engager au nom de leurs convictions parce que d'autres ne le font pas ou pataugent dans des incohérences. Qu'on ne leur reproche pas d'être aux avant-postes et d'y aller courageusement !

Vigésimo segundo Domingo del tiempo ordinario - Imitación de Cristo, tratado espiritual del siglo XV Libro II, cap. 12

"Que cargue con su cruz y me siga"

Si de buena voluntad llevas la cruz, ella te llevará, y guiará al fin deseado, adonde será el fin del padecer, aunque aquí no lo sea. Si contra tu voluntad la llevas, cargas y te la haces más pesada: y sin embargo conviene que sufras. Si desechas una cruz, sin duda hallarás otra, y puede ser que más grave. 

¿Piensas tu escapar de lo que ninguno de los mortales pudo? ¿Quién de los Santos fue en el mundo sin cruz y tribulación? Nuestro Señor Jesucristo por cierto, en cuanto vivió en este mundo, no estuvo una hora sin dolor de pasión. Porque convenía, dice, que Cristo padeciese, y resucitase de los muertos, y así entrase en su gloria (Lc 24,46s). Pues ¿cómo buscas tú otro camino sino este camino real, que es la vida de la santa cruz? […] 

Mas este tal así afligido de tantas maneras, no está sin el alivio de la consolación; porque siente el gran fruto que le crece con llevar su cruz. Porque cuando se sujeta a ella de su voluntad, toda la carga de la tribulación se convierte en confianza de la divina consolación. […] Esto no es virtud humana, sino gracia de Cristo, que tanto puede y hace en la carne flaca, que lo que naturalmente siempre aborrece y huye, lo acometa y acabe con fervor de espíritu. 

No es según la condición humana llevar la cruz, amar la cruz […]. Si miras a ti, no podrás por ti cosa alguna de éstas: mas si confías en Dios, El te enviará fortaleza del cielo, y hará que te estén sujetos el mundo y la carne. Y no temerás al diablo tu enemigo, si estuvieses armado de fe, y señalado con la cruz de Cristo.

HOMILÍA 31 DE AGOSTO DE 2014 ESCRITO POR P. ALFONSO GÁLVEZ ON 31 AGOSTO 2014.

http://www.alfonsogalvez.com/es/

Douzième dimanche après la Pentecôte (Rite Extraordinaire)


pentecote-12
Évangile selon saint Luc (10, 23-37)
En ce temps-là, Jésus dit à ses disciples : « Heureux les yeux qui voient ce que vous voyez ! Car, je vous le dis ; bien des prophètes et des rois ont voulu voir ce que vous voyez et ne l'ont pas vu, entendre ce que vous entendez et ne l'ont pas entendu ! » Et voici qu'un légiste se leva et lui dit pour l'embarrasser : « Maître, que dois-je faire pour avoir en partage la vie éternelle ? » Jésus lui dit : « Dans la Loi, qu'y a-t-il d'écrit ? Qu'y lis-tu ? » Celui-ci répondit : « Tu aimeras le Seigneur ton Dieu de tout ton cœur, de toute ton âme, de toutes tes forces et de tout ton esprit ; et ton prochain comme toi-même. » - « Bien répondu, dit Jésus ; fais cela, et tu vivras. » Mais lui, voulant se justifier, dit à Jésus : « Et qui est mon prochain ? » Jésus reprit : « Un homme descendait de Jérusalem à Jéricho, et il tomba au milieu de brigands qui le dépouillèrent, le rouèrent de coups et s'en allèrent, le laissant à demi mort. Un prêtre, d'aventure, descendait par ce chemin ; il le vit, prit l'autre côté de la route et passa. Pareillement un lévite, survenant en ce lieu, le vit, prit l'autre côté de la route et passa. Mais un Samaritain, qui était en voyage, arriva près de lui, le vit et fut touché de compassion. Il s'approcha, banda ses plaies, y versant de l'huile et du vin ; puis il le chargea sur sa propre monture, le conduisit à l'hôtellerie et prit soin de lui. Le lendemain, il tira deux deniers et les donna à l'hôtelier, en disant : 'Aie soin de lui, et tout ce que tu auras dépensé en plus, c'est moi qui le paierai lors de mon retour.' Lequel de ces trois, à ton avis, s'est montré le prochain de l'homme tombé aux mains des brigands ? » - « C'est, répondit-il, celui qui a pratiqué la miséricorde à son égard. » Jésus lui dit : « Va, et toi aussi, fais de même. »
Il y avait parmi les Juifs de ces grands parleurs, qui parcouraient toute la Judée, accusant Jésus-Christ, et lui reprochant d'enseigner que la loi de Moïse était inutile, et de répandre lui-même de nouvelles doctrines. Ce docteur de la loi, voulant surprendre le Sauveur, et l'amener à parler contre Moïse, vient pour le tenter, et il l'appelle « Maître », lui qui repoussait tout enseignement. Et comme le Seigneur avait coutume de parler de la vie éternelle à ceux qui venaient le trouver, ce docteur de la loi tient le même langage. Mais comme il le tentait dans un dessein perfide, le Sauveur ne lui répond que ce qui est écrit dans la loi de Moïse : « Jésus lui dit : Qu'y a-t-il d'écrit dans la loi ? Qu'y lisez-vous ? »
S. Cyrille
Si on nous demande comment on peut obtenir l'amour de Dieu, nous répondrons que l'amour de Dieu ne peut s'apprendre. Nous n'avons appris ni à nous réjouir de la présence de la lumière, ni à aimer la vie, nos parents, ou ceux qui nous ont nourris ; à plus forte raison l'amour de Dieu ne peut être l'objet d'un enseignement extérieur. Mais il y a en nous un sentiment intime déposé comme une semence au dedans de nous, et qui, par des motifs qui lui sont propres, nous porte à nous attacher à Dieu.
S. Basile
Déplorons d'abord le malheur de cet homme qui tombe entre les mains des voleurs, sans armes et sans défense, et qui, dans son imprévoyante témérité, choisit ce chemin où il ne pouvait échapper aux brigands qui l'infestaient ; car comment, sans armes, sans prévoyance, sans précaution, aurait-il pu se défendre contre ces voleurs qui fondent sur lui à main armée, et avec les intentions les plus meurtrières ? En effet, la méchanceté marche toujours, ayant pour armes les ruses, pour remparts la cruauté et les artifices, et prête à se livrer aux plus violents excès.
S. Jean Chrysostome
  Ce prêtre et ce lévite comme représentant les deux temps de la loi et des prophètes : le prêtre est la figure de la loi qui a institué le sacerdoce et les sacrifices ; le lévite représente les oracles des prophètes. Or, le genre humain ne put être guéri à aucune de ces deux époques, parce que la loi donne bien la connaissance du péché, mais ne le détruit pas. (Rm 3, 20 ; 8, 3).
S. Augustin (contre Pélage)
Le samaritain, en bandant les plaies de cet homme, figure la répression des péchés ; l'huile représente la douce consolation de l'espérance donnée par la miséricorde divine, qui nous obtient le bienfait de la réconciliation ; le vin, l'exhortation à une vie fervente dans l'Esprit saint.
S. Augustin (Quest. évang., 2, 19)
Cette hôtellerie, c'est l'Église qui reçoit tous ceux qui viennent fatigués des voies du monde, et accablés sous le poids de leurs péchés ; c'est là qu'après avoir déposé ce fardeau, le voyageur harassé se repose et reprend de nouvelles forces au festin salutaire qui lui est préparé. C'est ce qu'expriment ces paroles : « Et il prit soin de lui » ; car tout ce qui pouvait lui être contraire, nuisible ou mauvais, se trouve en dehors, tandis que cette hôtellerie offre un repos assuré et une sécurité complète.

S. Jean Chrysostome

SERMON DE SAINT AUGUSTIN SUR L'ANCIEN TESTAMENT


« Le sacrifice qui plaît à Dieu, c'est un esprit brisé »

Mon crime, dit David, moi, je le reconnais. Si moi, je reconnais, c'est donc à toi de fermer les yeux. Ne prétendons aucunement que notre vie est vertueuse et que nous sommes sans péché. Pour que notre vie mérite l'éloge, demandons pardon. Les hommes sans espérance, moins ils font attention à leurs propres péchés, plus ils sont curieux des péchés d'autrui. Ils ne cherchent pas ce qu'ils vont corriger, mais ce qu'ils vont critiquer. Et puisqu'ils ne peuvent pas s'excuser, ils sont prêts à accuser les autres. Ce n'est pas l'exemple de prière et de satisfaction envers Dieu que nous donne le psalmiste lorsqu'il dit : Car mon crime, moi, je le reconnais; et mon péché est toujours devant moi. Celui-là n'était pas attentif aux péchés d'autrui. Il invoquait son propre témoignage contre lui-même, il ne se flattait pas, mais il s'examinait, il descendait profondément en lui-même. Il ne se pardonnait pas et c'est justement pour cela qu'il pouvait demander sans impudence d'être pardonné.

Tu veux te réconcilier avec Dieu ? Apprends à te comporter de telle sorte que Dieu se réconcilie avec toi. Remarque ce qu'on lit dans le même psaume : Car, si tu avais voulu un sacrifice, je te l'aurais bien offert ; tu ne prendras pas plaisir aux holocaustes. Tu n'auras donc pas de sacrifice ? Tu n'auras rien à offrir, tu n'auras aucune offrande pour te réconcilier avec Dieu ? Écoute la suite, et dis à ton tour : Le sacrifice pour Dieu, c'est un esprit brisé. Le cœur brisé et humilié, Dieu ne le méprise pas. Après avoir rejeté ce que tu offrais, tu as trouvé quelque chose à offrir. Tu voulais offrir, comme tes pères, des animaux immolés, ce qu'on appelait des sacrifices. Si tu avais voulu un sacrifice, je t'en aurais bien offert. Ce n'est donc pas cela que tu cherches, et pourtant c'est un sacrifice que tu cherches.

Tu ne prendras pas plaisir aux holocaustes, dit-il. Ainsi donc, parce que tu ne prendras pas plaisir aux holocaustes, tu resteras sans sacrifice ? Pas du tout ! Le sacrifice pour Dieu, c'est un esprit brisé ; le cœur brisé et humilié, Dieu ne le méprise pas. Tu possèdes de quoi offrir. N'inspecte pas un troupeau, n'arme pas des navires et ne franchis pas la mer jusqu'à des régions lointaines pour en rapporter des aromates. Cherche dans ton cœur ce qui peut plaire à Dieu. Il faut briser ton cœur. Ne crains pas qu'il en meure ! On te le dit ici:  O Dieu, crée en moi un cœur pur. Pour que soit créé un cœur pur, il faut briser le cœur impur.

Il faut nous déplaire à nous-mêmes quand nous péchons, parce que les péchés déplaisent à Dieu. Et puisque nous ne sommes pas sans péché, nous ressemblerons à Dieu au moins en ce que le péché nous déplaît, comme à lui. Pour une part tu seras uni à la volonté de Dieu, car ce qui te déplait en toi, c'est ce que déteste celui qui t'a crée.

من مواعظ القديس أغسطينس الأسقف



(العظة 23/ا 1- 4: CCL 41، 321- 323)

رحمنا الله برأفته

    طوبى لنا إن عمِلْنا بما نسمعُ وبما نُنشِدُ. فالسَّماعُ هو مِثلُ رَمْيِ البِذار، والعملُ هو ثمرُ البِذار. أردتُ بهذه المقدِّمةِ أن أنبِّهَ محبّتَكم، لئَلَّا تدخلوا الكنيسةَ عبثًا، فتسمعوا أمورًا كثيرةً صالحة، ثم لا تعملوا أعمالًا صالحةً بحسبِ ما سمِعْتُم. قالَ الرَّسول: " فَبِالنِّعمَةِ نِلْتُمُ الخَلاصَ بِفَضلِ الإيمَانِ. فَلَيسَ ذَلِكَ مِنكُم، بَل هُوَ هِبَةٌ مِنَ الله، وَلَيسَ مِنَ الأعمَالِ لِئَلَّا يَفتَخِرَ أحَدٌ" (أفسس 2: 8- 9). لم يَسبِقْ أن عِشْنا حياةً أُولَى صالحة، نظرَ إليها اللهُ من فوقُ فأحبَّها وقال: لنساعِدْ وَلْنؤيِّدْ هؤلاء النَّاسَ لأنَّهم يعيشون عِيشةً صالحة. بل لم تُرْضِهِ حياتُنا كلُّها. ساءَه كلُّ ما صنَعْنا. ولكن لم يَسُؤْهُ ما صنعَه هو فينا. فما صنَعْنَاه نحن قضى عليه، وما صنعَه هو خلَّصَه. 
     لم نكُنْ إذًا صالحِين. ومع ذلك رَحِمَنا اللهُ وأرسلَ ابنَه ليموتَ، لا من أجلِ الأبرارِ بل الأشرار، لا من أجلِ الصَّالحِين بل الخطأة. "مَاتَ المَسِيحُ مِن أجلِ قَومٍ كَافِرِينَ"  (روما 5: 6). وماذا إذًا؟ يتابعُ الرَّسولُ فيقول: "وَلا يَكَادُ  يمُوتُ أحَدٌ مِن أجلِ امرِئٍ بَارٍّ. وَرُبَّمَا جَرُؤَ أحَدٌ أن يَمُوتَ مِن أجلِ امرِئٍ صَالِحٍ" (روما 5: 7). قد يوجدُ مَن يموتُ من أجلِ امرئٍ صالحٍ. وأمّا من أجلِ الكافرِ، ومن أجلِ الشِّرِّير، ومن أجلِ الخاطئِ، مَن يريدُ أن يموتَ إلا المسيحُ وحدَه، هو  البارُّ، ليُبرِّرَ غيرَ البَارِّين.
    لم يكُنْ لنا إذاً، أيّها الإخوة، أيُّ عملٍ صالحٍ. بل كلُّ أعمالِنا كانَتْ شرًّا. ومع أنَّ أعمالَ الإنسانِ كانَت كذلك، لم يخذِلْنا اللهُ برحمتِه. فأرسلَ ابنَه ليَفدِيَنا، لا بالذَّهبِ والفضّةِ، بل بثمنِ دمِه المُراق، هو الحملُ البريءُ الذي سِيقَ إلى الذَّبحِ بدلَ الخِراف الذين تدنّسوا، بل كادوا يموتون. نِلْنا إذًا هذه النَّعمة. فَلْنَعِشْ بقوَّتِها كما يليقُ بها، لئلَّا نُعرِّضَ هذه النِّعمةَ الكبيرةَ للإهانة. طبيبٌ كبيٌر جاءَنا وغفرَ لنا جميعَ خطايانا. إن أرَدْنا أن نرجِعَ إلى المرضِ ثانيةً لن نُسِيءَ لأنفسِنا فقط، بل نكونُ غيرَ عارفِي الجميلِ تجاهَ الطَّبيبِ أيضًا.
    لِنَسِرْ إذًا في طرُقِه التي بيَّنَها لنا، ولا سيَّما في طريقِ التَّواضع. وقد صارَ هو  نفسُه لنا الطَّريقَ. بيَّنَ لنا طريقَ التَّواضعِ أوَّلاً بالتَّعليمِ ثمَّ بالعملِ إذ تحمَّلَ الآلام. هو الذي لا يقدرُ أن يموتَ، تواضعَ حتى يقدرَ أن يموتَ من أجلِنا. "الكَلِمَةُ صَارَ بَشَرًا فَسَكَنَ بَينَنَا" (يوحنا 1: 14). هو غيُر قابلِ الموتِ اتَّخذَ طبيعتَنا المائتةَ ليموتَ من أجلِنا، وليَقضيَ بموتِه على موتِنا.
    هذا ما صنعَه الرَّبُّ لنا. هذا ما منحَنا إيّاه. هو العظيمُ وضعَ نفسَه. تواضعَ فأُمِيتَ. ُأمِيتَ فقامَ وتمجَّدَ، حتى لا يُبقِيَنا نحن الموتى في مقرِّ الأموات، بل ليمجِّدَنا فيه بقيامةِ الموتى. وكان قد مجَّدَنا من قبلُ بالإيمان وبشَركِةِ الأبرار. أعطانا إذًا طريقَ التَّواضع. فإذا سلَكْناها اعترَفْنا بالله وأنشَدْنا له بحقٍّ: " نَحمَدُكَ يَا الله، نَحمَدُكَ بِالدُّعَاءِ إلَى اسمِكَ" (مزمور 74: 2).

De los sermones de san Agustín, obispo


(Sermón 23 A,1-4: CCL 41, 321-323)
EL SEÑOR SE HA COMPADECIDO DE NOSOTROS

Dichosos nosotros, si llevamos a la práctica lo que escuchamos y cantamos. Porque cuando escuchamos es como si sembráramos una semilla, y cuando ponemos en práctica lo que hemos oído es como si esta semilla fructificara. Empiezo diciendo esto, porque quisiera exhortaros a que no vengáis nunca a la iglesia de manera infructuosa, limitándoos sólo a escuchar lo que allí se dice, pero sin llevarlo a la práctica. Porque, como dice el Apóstol, estáis salvados por su gracia, pues no se debe a las obras, para que nadie pueda presumir. No ha precedido, en efecto, de parte nuestra una vida santa, cuyas acciones Dios haya podido admirar, diciendo por ello: "Vayamos al encuentro y premiemos a estos hombres, porque la santidad de su vida lo merece". A Dios le desagradaba nuestra vida, le desagradaban nuestras obras; le agradaba, en cambio, lo que él había realizado en nosotros. Por ello, en nosotros, condenó lo que nosotros habíamos realizado y salvó lo que él había obrado.
Nosotros, por tanto, no éramos buenos. Y, con todo, él se compadeció de nosotros y nos envió a su Hijo a fin de que muriera, no por los buenos, sino por los malos; no por los justos, sino por los impíos. Dice, en efecto, la Escritura: Cristo murió por los impíos. Y ¿qué se dice a continuación? Apenas habrá quien muera por un justo; por un hombre de bien tal vez se atrevería uno a morir. Es posible, en efecto, encontrar quizás alguno que se atreva a morir por un hombre de bien; pero por un inicuo, por un malhechor, por un pecador; ¿quién querrá entregar su vida, a no ser Cristo, que fue justo hasta tal punto que justificó incluso a los que eran injustos?
Ninguna obra buena habíamos realizado, hermanos míos; todas nuestras acciones eran malas. Pero, a pesar de ser malas las obras de los hombres, la misericordia de Dios no abandonó a los humanos. Y Dios envió a su Hijo para que nos rescatara, no con oro o plata, sino a precio de su sangre, la sangre de aquel Cordero sin mancha, llevado al matadero por el bien de los corderos manchados, si es que debe decirse simplemente manchados y no totalmente corrompidos. Tal ha sido, pues, la gracia que hemos recibido. Vivamos, por tanto, dignamente, ayudados por la gracia que hemos recibido y no hagamos injuria a la grandeza del don que nos ha sido dado. Un médico extraordinario ha venido hasta nosotros, y todos nuestros pecados han sido perdonados. Si volvemos a enfermar, no sólo nos dañaremos a nosotros mismos, sino que seremos además ingratos para con nuestro médico.
Sigamos, pues, las sendas que él nos indica e imitemos en particular, su humildad, aquella humildad por la que él se rebajó a sí mismo en provecho nuestro. Esta senda de humildad nos la ha enseñado él con sus palabras y, para darnos ejemplo, él mismo anduvo por ella, muriendo por nosotros. Para poder morir por nosotros, siendo como era inmortal, la Palabra se hizo carne y acampó entre nosotros. Así el que era inmortal se revistió de mortalidad para poder morir por nosotros y destruir nuestra muerte con su muerte.
Esto fue lo que hizo el Señor, éste el don que nos otorgó: Siendo grande, se humilló; humillado, quiso morir; habiendo muerto, resucitó y fue exaltado para que nosotros no quedáramos abandonados en el abismo, sino que fuéramos exaltados con él en la resurrección de los muertos, los que, ya desde ahora, hemos resucitado por la fe y por la confesión de su nombre. Nos dio y nos indicó, pues, la senda de la humildad. Si la seguimos, confesaremos al Señor y, con toda razón, le daremos gracias, diciendo: Te damos gracias, oh Dios, te damos gracias, invocando tu nombre.

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop


(Sermo 23A, 1-4: CCL 41, 41, 321-323)

The Lord has had pity on us


Happy are we if we do the deeds of which we have heard and sung. Our hearing of them means having them planted in us, while our doing them shows that the seed has borne fruit. By saying this, I wish to caution you, dearly beloved, not to enter the Church fruitlessly, satisfied with mere hearing of such mighty blessings and failing to do good works. For we have been saved by his grace, says the Apostle, and not by our works, lest anyone may boast; for it is by his grace that we have been saved. It is not as if a good life of some sort came first, and that thereupon God showed his love and esteem for it from on high, saying: "Let us come to the aid of these men and assist them quickly because they are living a good life." No, our life was displeasing to him. He will, therefore, condemn what we have done but he will save what he himself has done in us.

We were not good, but God had pity on us and sent his Son to die, not for good men but for bad ones, not for the just but for the wicked. Yes, Christ died for the ungodly. Notice what is written next: One will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. Perhaps someone can be found who will dare to die for a good man; but for the unjust man, for the wicked one, the sinner, who would be willing to die except Christ alone who is so just that he justifies even the unjust?

And so, my brothers, we had no good works, for all our works were evil. Yet although men's actions were such, God in his mercy did not abandon men. He sent his Son to redeem us, not with gold or silver but at the price of his blood poured out for us. Christ, the spotless lamb, became the sacrificial victim, led to the slaughter for the sheep that were blemished—if indeed one can say that they were blemished and not entirely corrupt. Such is the grace we have received! Let us live so as to be worthy of that great grace, and not do injury to it. So mighty is the physician who has come to us that he has healed all our sins! If we choose to be sick once again, we will not only harm ourselves, but show ingratitude to the physician as well.

Let us then follow Christ's paths which he has revealed to us, above all the path of humility, which he himself became for us. He showed us that path by his precepts, and he himself followed it by his suffering on our behalf. In order to die for us—because as God he could not die—the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.The immortal One took on mortality that he might die for us, and by dying put to death our death. This is what the Lord did, this the gift he granted to us. The mighty one was brought low, the lowly one was slain, and after he was slain, he rose again and was exalted. For he did not intend to leave us dead in hell, but to exalt in himself at the resurrection of the dead those whom he had already exalted and made just by the faith and praise they gave him. Yes, he gave us the path of humility. If we keep to it we shall confess our belief in the Lord and have good reason to sing: We shall praise you, God, we shall praise you and call upon your name.

samedi 30 août 2014

The Synod of Bishops and Divine Law by Roberto de Mattei

Editorial, September 2014

by Roberto de Mattei


Rosso Fiorentino
The Marriage of the Virgin
Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence

The Synod of Bishops in October will discuss on the basis of Instrumentum laboris – "the worksheet" which summarizes the responses to the "preliminary questionnaire" received from the Bishop Conferences, ministries, and more in general - dioceses, parishes, movements, ecclesial associations,[all] consulted on the topic of marriage and the family. Besides the sociological slant which characterizes it, the document contains some disturbing passages. One of these is the implicit and often explicit devaluation of the idea of the natural law. In the Instrumentum laboris, in fact, we find this: "In a vast majority of responses and observations, the concept of natural law today turns out to be, in different cultural contexts, highly problematic, if not completely incomprehensible." (n.21) The solution suggested would be to abandon the concept and term of the natural law, or "to re-read" it in accessible language, with particular attention to the young being part as a direct interlocutor on these themes.


We seem to understand then, that since the Catholic world no longer comprehends the idea of the natural law, it might as well be shelved and substituted by something more suited to the current mentality.


This position appears even more surprising as all the recent Pontiffs had vigorously proclaimed the importance of the natural law.


Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae, of July 25, 1968, with regard to the moral doctrine of marriage, taught that this is "a teaching which is based on the natural law as illuminated and enriched by divine Revelation." (Humane Vitae, no. 4). Pope Montini referred to the natural law in order to reiterate that, according to the Church, "every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life." (Humane Vitae, no.11).


In the encyclical Evangelium Vitae of March 25, 1995, John Paul II based the sacred value of human life (from its very beginning until its end) on the same law. In this important document, he affirms "every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15) the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end" (no.2). In the encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, of the August 6, 1993,the Pope who has just been canonized, denounced the rejection of the natural law as the fruit of "a more or less obvious influence of currents of thought which end by detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship with the Truth." [It is] on the basis of such a law – he affirmed on February 6, 2004 – that a platform of shared values can be built, around which constructive dialogue is developed with all men of good will, and more in general, with secular society."


Also Benedict XVI frequently referred to the importance of this doctrine "there is an urgent need to reflect upon the question of natural law and to rediscover its truth" which "is common to all mankind." [...] "All legal systems, both internal and international, ultimately draw their legitimacy from their rooting in natural law, in the ethical message inscribed in human beings themselves. The natural law is, definitively, the only valid bulwark against the abuse of power and the deceits of ideological manipulation." (Discourse at the Pontifical Lateran University, February 12, 2007).


In a clear little volume dedicated to The Natural Law in The Doctrine of the Church (Consult Editrice, Rome, 2008), Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect for the Congregation of Catholic Education, explained how the ordinary Magisterium, on the primary level of its infallible teaching, includes, alongside the deposit of the faith, whatever is connected to it, ergo, also the natural law. Therefore, the natural law which the Church is guardian of, enjoys infallibility. Not even the Pope, who exercises absolute authority inside the Church, can modify or render relative the Divine and Natural Law, which he has the duty to transmit, diffuse and defend. Those who are asking the Church to update Her morality i.e. putting cohabitating couples on a par with the family, are asking the Church to exercise an authority which She does not have.


Alongside the declarations of Pontiffs, the numerous interventions of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith should be remembered and in particular the document, Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, of June 3, 2003, dedicated to restating the truth of marriage. The entire question is treated starting from the concept of natural morality. In this text from the Magisterium it is stated clearly that "there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law." (no.4).


The natural law is not a confessional truth, but in primis, a truth that belongs to universal right reason. It is in fact, an objective reality written in nature, not of this or that man, but in human nature itself considered as such, in its permanence and stability. In this sense it is not a law imposed from the outside, but, as Leo XIII in the Encyclical, Libertas, June 20, 1888, informs us, it is indelibly written, rather "engraved in the soul of every man". The difference between the natural law and any other positive law, is that the positive laws are elaborated by men, that is to say external, whereas the natural law belongs to the spiritual nature of man himself.


The main difficulty in the understanding of the natural law is in the fact that today the notion of nature [itself] has been lost. Pope Benedict XVI noted that the natural law has become "an almost incomprehensible word for many due to a no longer metaphysical concept of nature, but a merely empirical one." (Address, February 12, 2007). The natural law is not in fact the physical-biological law of human nature, but the moral and metaphysical order of creation, which man can discover through his reason.


All the Fathers and Doctors of the Church spoke about this law, defining it at times as the scintilla animae, the spark which enlightens conscience. St.Thomas Aquinas is the one who studied and summarized the concept best, defining it as "the participation of the eternal law in rational creatures." (Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 91, a.2).


If the concept of the natural law is lost, we will be compelled to accept the theory of gender based on the denial of the very concept of human nature. Man is thought of as a purely material entity, modifiable at will, according to the needs and interests of the moment.


The natural law which comes down from God, is substituted by positive law imposed by pressures from political and mass-media groups. Instead of reflecting on the natural and Divine Law, laws and human behavior are adapting to the opinion of fluctuating and anti-Christian trends.


It is clear that on this issue, the discussion at the next Synod of Bishops will be very hot.


[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]

SERMON DE SAINT JEAN CHRYSOSTOME SUR L'ÉVANGILE DE MATTHIEU


Discerner le Corps du Christ

Tu veux honorer le Corps du Christ ? Ne le méprise pas lorsqu'il est nu. Ne l'honore pas ici dans l'église, par des tissus de soie tandis que tu le laisses dehors souffrir du froid et du manque de vêtements. Car celui qui a dit : Ceci est mon corps, et qui l'a réalisé en le disant, c'est lui qui a dit : Vous m'avez vu avoir faim, et vous ne m'avez pas donné à manger, et aussi : Chaque fois que vous ne l'avez pas fait à l'un de ces petits, c'est à moi que vous ne l'avez pas fait. Ici le corps du Christ n'a pas besoin de vêtements, mais d'âmes pures ; là-bas il a besoin de beaucoup de sollicitude. 

Apprenons donc à vivre selon la sagesse et à honorer le Christ comme il le veut lui-même. Car l'hommage qui lui est le plus agréable est celui qu'il demande, non celui que nous-mêmes choisissons. Lorsque Pierre croyait l'honorer en l'empêchant de lui laver les pieds, ce n'était pas de l'honneur, mais tout le contraire. Toi aussi, honore-le de la manière prescrite par lui en donnant ta richesse aux pauvres. Car Dieu n'a pas besoin de vases d'or mais d'âmes qui soient en or.

Je ne vous dis pas cela pour vous empêcher de faire des donations religieuses, mais je soutiens qu'en même temps, et même auparavant, on doit faire l'aumône. Car Dieu accueille celles-là, mais bien davantage celle-ci. Car, par les donations, celui qui donne est le seul bénéficiaire mais, par l'aumône, le bénéficiaire est aussi celui qui reçoit. La donation est une occasion de vanité ; mais l'aumône n'est autre chose qu'un acte de bonté.

Quel avantage y a-t-il à ce que la table du Christ soit chargée de vases d'or, tandis que lui-même meurt de misère ? Commence par rassasier l'affamé et, avec ce qui te restera, tu orneras son autel. Tu fais une coupe en or, et tu ne donnes pas un verre d'eau fraîche ? Et à quoi bon revêtir la table du Christ de voiles d'or, si tu ne lui donnes pas la couverture qui lui est nécessaire ? Qu'y gagnes-tu ? Dis-moi donc : Si tu vois le Christ manquer de la nourriture indispensable, et que tu l'abandonnes pour recouvrir l'autel d'un revêtement précieux, est-ce qu'il va t'en savoir gré ? Est-ce qu'il ne va pas plutôt s'en indigner ? Ou encore, tu vois le Christ couvert de haillons, gelant de froid, tu négliges de lui donner un manteau, mais tu lui élèves des colonnes d'or dans l'église en disant que tu fais cela pour l'honorer. Ne va-t-il pas dire que tu te moques de lui, estimer que tu lui fais injure, et la pire des injures ? 

Pense qu'il s'agit aussi du Christ, lorsqu'il s'en va, errant, étranger, sans abri ; et toi, qui as omis de l'accueillir, tu embellis le pavé, les murs et les chapiteaux des colonnes, tu attaches les lampes par des chaînes d'argent ; mais lui, tu ne veux même pas voir qu'il est enchaîné dans une prison. Je ne dis pas cela pour t'empêcher de faire de telles générosités, mais je t'exhorte à les accompagner ou plutôt à les faire précéder par les autres actes de bienfaisance. Car personne n'a jamais été accusé pour avoir omis les premières, tandis que, pour avoir négligé les autres, on est menacé de la géhenne, du feu qui ne s'éteint pas, du supplice partagé avec les démons. Par conséquent, lorsque tu ornes l'église, n'oublie pas ton frère en détresse, car ce temple-là a plus de valeur que l'autre.

From a homily on Matthew by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop


(Hom. 50:3-4: PG 58, 508-509)

Do not adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother

Do you want to honor Christ's body? Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honor him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked. For he who said: This is my body, and made it so by his words, also said: You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me.What we do here in the church requires a pure heart, not special garments; what we do outside requires great dedication.

Let us learn, therefore to be men of wisdom and to honor Christ as he desires. For a person being honored finds greatest pleasure in the honor he desires, not in the honor we think best. Peter thought he was honoring Christ when he refused to let him wash his feet; but what Peter wanted was not truly an honor, quite the opposite! Give him the honor prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor. For God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.

Now, in saying this I am not forbidding you to make such gifts; I am only demanding that along with such gifts and before them you give alms. He accepts the former, but he is much more pleased with the latter. In the former, only the giver profits; in the latter, the recipient does too. A gift to the Church may be taken as a form of ostentation, but an alms is pure kindness.

Of what use is it to weigh down Christ's table with golden cups, when he himself is dying of hunger? First, fill him when he is hungry; then use the means you have left to adorn his table. Will you have a golden cup made but not give a cup of water? What is the use of providing the table with cloths woven of gold thread, and not providing Christ himself with the clothes he needs? What profit is there in that? Tell me: If you were to see him lacking the necessary food but were to leave him in that state and merely surround his table with gold, would he be grateful to you or rather would he not be angry? What if you were to see him clad in worn-out rags and stiff from the cold, and were to forget about clothing him and instead were to set up golden columns for him, saying that you were doing it in his honor? Would he not think he was being mocked and greatly insulted?

Apply this also to Christ when he comes along the roads as a pilgrim, looking for shelter. You do not take him in as your guest, but you decorate floor and walls and the capitals of the pillars. You provide silver chains for the lamps, but you cannot bear even to look at him as he lies chained in prison. Once again, I am not forbidding you to supply these adornments; I am urging you to provide these other things as well, and indeed to provide them first. No one has ever been accused for not providing ornaments, but for those who neglect their neighbor a hell awaits with an inextinguishable fire and torment in the company of the demons. Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.

من مواعظ القديس يوحنا فم الذهب الأسقف في إنجيل القديس متى



(العظة 50، 3- 4: PG 58، 508- 509)

لا تزيِّنْ بيتَ الله وتحتقرَ أخاك المعذَّب.

    أتريدُ أن تكرِّمَ جسدَ الربِّ؟ لا تحتَقِرْهُ إذا رأَيْتَه عريانًا (في أحدِ إخوتِه الصِّغار). لا تكرِّمْه هنا (في الكنيسة) بثيابِ الحريرِ بينما تتركُه في الخارجِ معرَّضًا للبَردِ والعُريِ. لأنّ الذي قال: "هذا هو جسدي"، وأكَّدَ الكلامَ بالعمل، هو نفسُه قال أيضًا: "رأيْتُموني جائعًا ولم تُطعِموني" (ر. متى 25: 42). وقال: "ما لم تصنعوه لواحدٍ من هؤلاءِ الصّغارِ، فلي لم تَصنعوه" (ر. متى 25: 45). هنا ليس هو بحاجةٍ إلى ثياب، بل إلى نفوسٍ طاهرة. وأمَّا هناك فهو بحاجةٍ إلى عنايةٍ كبيرة.
    لنتعلَّمْ إذًا حكمةَ الحياة، وَلْنُكَرِّمْ المسيحَ كما يريدُ أن يكرَّمَ. لأنَّ الذي يكرَّمُ يجدُ التَّكريمَ عَذْبًا، إن كانَ هو التَّكريمَ الذي يبتغيه، لا التَّكريمَ الذي نراه نحن. ظنَّ بطرسُ أنَّه يكرِّمُ المسيحَ لمّا تمنَّعَ ولم يدَعْهُ يغسلُ قدَمَيْه. فالذي حسِبَه تكريمًا كانَ عكسَ ذلك. ولهذا كرِّمْهُ أنتَ بحسبِ الشَّريعةِ التي أوصَى بها، أي وزِّعْ أموالَك على المساكين. فليسَ اللهُ بحاجةٍ إلى آنيةٍ من ذهب، بل إلى نفوسٍ من ذهب.
    ولا أقولُ هذا لأمنعَك من تقديمِ التَّقادمِ لله. ولكن، مع هذه التَّقادمِ بل وقبلَها، أَطلُبُ أن تُعطَى الصَّدقاتُ. لأنّ الله يقبلُ تلك، ولكنَّ هذه أكثرُ قبولًا لديه. هناك المقدِّمُ وحدَه يستفيد، وأمّا هنا فيستفيدُ المعطي والمعطَى إليه. هناك تبدو التَّقدمةُ مناسَبةً للظُّهور، وأمّا هنا فهي صدقةٌ ورحمةٌ فقط.
    ما الفائدةُ، في الواقعِ، إنْ كانَتْ مائدةُ المسيحِ مغطَّاةً بآنيةِ الذَّهب، وكان هو يموتُ جوعًا؟ أشبِعْ أوّلًا الجائع، ثم زيِّنْ مذبحَه بما زادَ لدَيْك. أتصنعُ كأسًا من ذهبٍ، ولا تُعطي كأسَ ماء؟ وما الفائدةُ من تغطيةِ المذبحِ بالسَّتائرِ الموشَّاةِ بالذَّهبِ، ولا تُقدِّمَ له ما هو ضروريٌّ لسَتْرِ جسدِه؟ أيُّ ربحٍ تَجنِيه من ذلك؟  قُلْ لي: إن رأيْتَ أحدًا بحاجةٍ إلى الغِذاءِ الضَّروري، وترَكْتَه، وأحَطْتَ المذبحَ بالذَّهبِ الكثير، أيَرضَى اللهُ عنك؟ ألا يثورُ بالأحرى غضبُه عليك؟ وماذا لو رأَيْتَه مرتدِيًا ثيابًا بالية، يرتجفُ برْدًا، ولم تُعطِه ثيابًا، بل شيَّدْتَ له أعمدةً من ذهبٍ مُدَّعِيًا أنَّكَ تعملُ ذلك لتكريمِه؟ ألا يَرى هو أنَّكَ تسخرُ منه وأنّكَ توجِّهُ إليه أكبرَ الإهانات؟
    فكِّرْ أيضًا في المسيحِ، عندما يذهبُ مشرَّدًا تائهًا بلا مأوى،  وأنت لم تقبَلْه ضيفًا. ولكنَّك زيَّنْتَ البلاطَ والجدرانَ وتيجانَ الأعمدةِ، وعلَّقْتَ القناديلَ بسلاسلَ من فضَّة، وأنتَ لا تريدُ حتى أن تنظرَ إليه مقيَّدًا في السِّجن. لا أقول هذا لأمنعَك من القيامِ بكلِّ هذه الزِّينة، ولكن لتهتمَّ في الوقتِ نفسِه بتلك أيضًا. بل أحثُّكَ على إتمامِ تلك (أي الصَّدقة) قبل هذه. لم يُتَّهَمْ أحدٌ قط لأنَّه أهملَ هذه (أي زينةَ بيتِ الله). أمَّا مَن أهملَ تلك (أي الصَّدقة) فإنَّه يصيرُ إلى جَهنَّمَ، حيث يتحمَّلُ النَّارَ التي لا تُطفَأُ ويشاركُ الشَّياطينَ في عذابِهم. فلا تزيِّنْ بيتَ الله وتحتقرَ أخاك المعذَّبَ. لأنَّ هذا الهيكلَ أثمنُ من ذاكَ. 

الردة     متى 25: 35 و40؛ أمثال 19: 17

    لأنِّي جُعْتُ فَأطعَمتُمُونِي، وَعَطِشْتُ فَسَقَيتُمُونِي. وَكُنْتُ غَرِيبًا فَآوَيْتُمُونِي. الحَقَّ أقُولُ لَكُم: كُلَّمَا صَنَعْتُمْ شَيئًا مِن ذَلِكَ لِوَاحِدٍ مِن إخوَتِي هَؤُلاءِ الصِّغَارِ، فَلِي قَد صَنَعْتُمُوهُ.

    مَن يَرحَمْ الفَقِيرَ يُقرِضْ الرَّبَّ.

    الحَقَّ أقُولُ لَكُم: كُلَّمَا صَنَعْتُمْ شَيئًا مِن ذَلِكَ لِوَاحِدٍ مِن إخوَتِي هَؤُلاءِ الصِّغَارِ، فَلِي قَد صَنَعْتُمُوهُ.


De las homilías de san Juan Crisóstomo, obispo, sobre el evangelio de san Mateo


(Homilía 50, 3-4: PG 58, 508-509)
AL ADORNAR EL TEMPLO, NO DESPRECIES AL HERMANO NECESITADO

¿Deseas honrar el cuerpo de Cristo? No lo desprecies, pues, cuando lo contemples desnudo en los pobres, ni lo honres aquí, en el templo, con lienzos de seda, si al salir lo abandonas en su frío y desnudez. Porque el mismo que dijo: Esto es mi cuerpo; y con su palabra llevó a realidad lo que decía, afirmó también: Tuve hambre, y no me disteis de comer, y más adelante: Siempre que dejasteis de hacerlo a uno de estos pequeñuelos, a mi en persona lo dejasteis de hacer. El templo no necesita vestidos y lienzos, sino pureza de alma; los pobres, en cambio, necesitan que con sumo cuidado nos preocupemos de ellos.
Reflexionemos, pues, y honremos a Cristo con aquel mismo honor con que él desea ser honrado; pues, cuando se quiere honrar a alguien, debemos pensar en el honor que a él le agrada, no en el que a nosotros nos place. También Pedro pretendió honrar al Señor cuando no quería dejarse lavar los pies, pero lo que él quería impedir no era el honor que el Señor deseaba, sino todo lo contrario. Así tú debes tributar al Señor el honor que él mismo te indicó, distribuyendo tus riquezas a los pobres. Pues Dios no tiene ciertamente necesidad de vasos de oro, pero sí, en cambio, desea almas semejantes al oro.
No digo esto con objeto de prohibir la entrega de dones preciosos para los templos, pero sí que quiero afirmar que, junto con estos dones y aun por encima de ellos, debe pensarse en la caridad para con los pobres. Porque, si Dios acepta los dones para su templo, le agradan, con todo, mucho más las ofrendas que se dan a los pobres. En efecto, de la ofrenda hecha al templo sólo saca provecho quien la hizo; en cambio, de la limosna saca provecho tanto quien la hace como quien la recibe. El don dado para el templo puede ser motivo de vanagloria, la limosna, en cambio, sólo es signo de amor y de caridad.
¿De qué serviría adornar la mesa de Cristo con vasos de oro, si el mismo Cristo muere de hambre? Da primero de comer al hambriento, y luego, con lo que te sobre, adornarás la mesa de Cristo. ¿Quieres hacer ofrenda de vasos de oro y no eres capaz de dar un vaso de agua? Y, ¿de qué serviría recubrir el altar con lienzos bordados de oro, cuando niegas al mismo Señor el vestido necesario para cubrir su desnudez? ¿Qué ganas con ello? Dime si no: Si ves a un hambriento falto del alimento indispensable y, sin preocuparte de su hambre, lo llevas a contemplar una mesa adornada con vajilla de oro, ¿te dará las gracias de ello? ¿No se indignará más bien contigo? O, si, viéndolo vestido de andrajos y muerto de frío, sin acordarte de su desnudez, levantas en su honor monumentos de oro, afirmando que con esto pretendes honrarlo, ¿no pensará él que quieres burlarte de su indigencia con la más sarcástica de tus ironías?
Piensa, pues, que es esto lo que haces con Cristo, cuando lo contemplas errante, peregrino y sin techo y, sin recibirlo, te dedicas a adornar el pavimento, las paredes y las columnas del templo. Con cadenas de plata sujetas lámparas, y te niegas a visitarlo cuando él está encadenado en la cárcel. Con esto que estoy diciendo, no pretendo prohibir el uso de tales adornos, pero sí que quiero afirmar que es del todo necesario hacer lo uno sin descuidar lo otro; es más: os exhorto a que sintáis mayor preocupación por el hermano necesitado que por el adorno del templo. Nadie, en efecto, resultará condenado por omitir esto segundo, en cambio, los castigos del infierno, el fuego inextinguible y la compañía de los demonios están destinados para quienes descuiden lo primero. Por tanto, al adornar el templo procurad no despreciar al hermano necesitado, porque este templo es mucho más precioso que aquel otro.

Los Discípulos de Emaús (II)

Escrito por P. Alfonso Gálvez. Posted in Escritos del P. Alfonso

 

Y les dijo Jesús: ¿Qué discursos son estos que vais haciendo entre vosotros mientras camináis? Ellos se detuvieron entristecidos, y tomando la palabra uno de ellos por nombre Cleofás...

(Lc 24: 17--18)

 

Ellos se detuvieron entristecidos

Los caminantes de Emaús se detuvieron entristecidos ante la pregunta de aquel caminante desconocido. Estaban desanimados. Y todo porque las cosas no habían ocurrido como ellos las habían pensado:

... Lo de Jesús Nazareno, varón profeta, poderoso en obras y palabras ante Dios y ante todo el pueblo; cómo le entregaron los príncipes de los sacerdotes y nuestros magistrados para que fuese condenado a muerte y crucificado. Nosotros esperábamos...

En suma, que no habían comprendido aún el significado de la cruz. Ni habían entendido, por lo tanto, cuál es el camino por el que los hombres pueden conseguir la Perfecta Alegría. La cual va siempre de la mano del Amor, que a su vez supone siempre, si se trata del amor perfecto, la entrega a la persona amada, que en este caso es Dios. Pero en Cristo culmina esa entrega mediante su muerte en la Cruz, realizada en obediencia y amor total al Padre y a los hombres. Pero durante la marcha de peregrinación terrestre del hombre hacia la Patria del Cielo, no hay otro camino para él sino Cristo Jesús (Jn 14:6). Que es lo mismo que decir mediante la entrega de sí mismo y la participación en la cruz del Señor. Y no hay otro modo de encontrar la Alegría.

 La Alegría se aleja de los hombres cuando se buscan a sí mismos en vez de acogerse al verdadero Amor. Su lugar lo viene a ocupar la Tristeza. Los de Emaús no habían conocido los caminos de la verdadera Alegría, y de ahí su tristeza y su sentimiento de fracaso. Justamente lo que les ocurre a tantos hombres que piensan tal como ellos.

Pero existen dos clases de tristeza, con dos causas distintas que la determinan.

La primera se refiere a los hechos y situaciones que dan lugar a los acontecimientos desagradables de la vida: fracasos, trabajos, enfermedades, pérdida de los seres queridos... Una tristeza, en suma, que puede ser superada desde la fe; pues ya se sabe que el dolor cristiano es perfectamente compatible con la Alegría (Mt 5:5).

Pero la verdadera tristeza ---la que tendría que considerarse como la única y escribirse con mayúscula--- es la que nace del sentimiento de no ser santos y que supone la ausencia de Dios.

Es muy difícil hablar de esta última tristeza, la verdaderamente auténtica. Puesto que es un concepto negativo, habría que comprender primero lo que es el gozo causado por la presencia de Dios y lo que supone carecer de él. Algo así como lo que sucede con la ceguera, que solamente puede ser bien comprendida como desgracia por los que gozan de la vista. Lo peor de la tristeza es que ni siquiera se da a conocer en todo su contenido a los que la padecen; solamente los santos la entienden, que son precisamente los que se han librado de ella. Y de ahí que el mejor camino para conocerla es el de examinar la alegría de los santos. Solamente entonces, cuando nos damos cuenta de que nosotros no la poseemos, es cuando estamos en camino de vislumbrar en lo que consiste la tristeza.

La tristeza vive en los hombres una existencia propia de parásitos, al mismo tiempo que los corroe como la tiña. Les absorbe la savia de la Alegría, y hasta les hace creer que la angustia es la situación normal de la existencia humana.

Según San Pablo, el primero de los frutos del Espíritu Santo es la caridad y el segundo la alegría (Ga 5:22). De lo que se deduce que el amor y la alegría van íntimamente unidos, y como si la segunda fuera la consecuencia del primero. Y de ahí la consigna del Apóstol: Estad siempre alegres.[1]

¡Qué diferente sería todo si la predicación tuviera presentes las palabras del profeta Isaías: ¡Qué hermosos son sobre los montes los pies del mensajero que anuncia la paz, que trae la felicidad y anuncia la salvación![2] Pues la predicación cristiana es en realidad el anuncio de la Buena Nueva: No temáis; os traigo una buena nueva, una gran alegría, que es para todo el pueblo.[3]

Sin perjuicio de que se predican todas y cada una de las verdades que componen el Mensaje de Salvación ---cosa que no se hace---, el apóstol cristiano habría de tener presente que es el nuestro un mundo angustiado y temeroso que necesita, efectivamente, que le recuerden el castigo para quienes se apartan de Dios; pero que no necesita menos que le indiquen los caminos de la salvación y le hagan conocer la Alegría que contiene el Mensaje cristiano. Decía von Balthasar en uno de sus últimos libros que nada cambiarán los cristianos con respecto a las relaciones entre los hombres escribiendo sobre sus banderas ``Justicia Social'', en lugar de ``Imitación de Cristo'', tal como hacen hoy las Órdenes Religiosas; cuando en realidad tendrían que convertirse ellos mismos, como la única forma de transformar los corazones de quienes pueden cambiar las relaciones sociales.[4]

Pero es imposible hablar convincentemente de la Alegría sin estar alegre. Y es imposible estar alegre si no se conoce el verdadero Amor. Lo que requiere, a su vez, estar dispuesto a morir a uno mismo siguiendo las enseñanzas del Señor: Si guardáis mis enseñanzas permaneceréis en mi amor, como yo guardé los preceptos de mi Padre y permanezco en su amor. Esto os lo digo para que yo me goce en vosotros y vuestro gozo sea completo.[5]

 (Continuará)



[4] U. von Balthasar, Catholique, París, 1976, pag. 126.

vendredi 29 août 2014

HOMÉLIE DE S. BÈDE LE VÉNÉRABLE

Le saint précurseur de la naissance, de la prédication et de la mort du Seigneur a montré (au moment de sa mort) un courage digne d'attirer les regards de Dieu. Comme le dit l'Écriture : Aux yeux des hommes, il subissait un châtiment, mais par son espérance il avait déjà l'immortalité. Nous avons raison de célébrer avec joie la naissance au ciel de celui qui a rendu lui-même ce jour solennel par sa propre passion en l'illustrant par la pourpre de son sang ; et nous vénérons dans la joie spirituelle la mémoire de cet homme qui a scellé par le sceau de son martyre le témoignage qu'il rendait au Seigneur. 

Il n'y a en effet aucun doute que saint Jean Baptiste a subi la prison pour notre Rédempteur qu'il précédait par son témoignage, et que c'est pour lui qu'il a donné sa vie. Car si son persécuteur ne lui a pas demandé de nier le Christ, mais de taire la vérité, c'est cependant pour le Christ qu'il est mort. Le Christ lui-même a dit, en effet : Je suis la vérité. Puisque c'est pour la vérité qu'il a répandu son sang, c'est donc bien pour le Christ. Jean avait témoigné en naissant que le Christ allait naître ; en prêchant, il avait témoigné que le Christ allait prêcher : en baptisant, qu'il allait baptiser. En souffrant le premier sa passion, il signifiait que le Christ devait lui aussi souffrir. ~

Cet homme si grand parvint donc au terme de sa vie par l'effusion de son sang, après une longue et pénible captivité. Lui qui avait annoncé la bonne nouvelle de la liberté d'une paix supérieure est jeté en prison par des impies. Il est enfermé dans l'obscurité d'un cachot, lui qui était venu rendre témoignage à la lumière et qui avait mérité d'être appelé flambeau ardent de lumière par la lumière elle-même qui est le Christ. ~ Par son propre sang est baptisé celui à qui il fut donné de baptiser le Rédempteur du monde, d'entendre la voix du Père s'adresser au Christ, et de voir descendre sur lui la grâce du Saint-Esprit. Mais il n'était pas pénible à des hommes tels que lui, bien plus, il leur semblait léger et désirable d'endurer pour la vérité des tourments temporels qui laissaient entrevoir la récompense de joies éternelles. Préférant la mort qui de toute façon était naturellement inévitable, ils choisissaient de l'accepter en confessant le nom du Christ ; ils recevaient ainsi la palme de la vie éternelle. L'Apôtre l'a bien dit : Il vous a été accordé par le Christ, non seulement de croire en lui, mais encore de souffrir pour lui. Et s'il dit que souffrir pour le Christ est un don de celui-ci à ses élus, c'est parce que, comme il le dit ailleurs : Il n'y a pas de commune mesure entre les souffrances du temps présent et la gloire que Dieu va bientôt révéler en nous. 

من كتاب التفسير للقديس إيرونموس الكاهن في سفر يوئيل النبي



(PL 25، 967- 968)

ارجعوا إلي بكل قلوبكم

    "ارجِعُوا إلَيَّ بِكُلِّ قُلُوبِكُم" (يوئيل 2: 12). وتوبوا بالصَّومِ والبكاءِ والدّموع. فإذا صُمْتُم اليومَ شبِعْتُم غدًا. وإذا بكَيْتُم الآن ضحِكْتُم غدًا، وإذا نُحْتُم الآن وجدْتُم العَزاءَ غدًا. من العادةِ أن تمزِّقوا ثيابَكم في الأحزانِ والشَّدائد: هكذا صنعَ عظيمُ الأحبارِ، كما وردَ في الإنجيل، ليبيِّنَ جسامةَ التُّهمَةِ التي رآها في المخلِّصِ الرَّبِّ. وهكذا صنعَ بولسُ وبرنابا لمّا سِمَعا كلامَ التَّجديف. أمَّا أنا فأُوصِيكم ألا تمزِّقوا ثيابَكم أبدًا، بل قلوبَكم المملؤةَ بالخطايا: فهي كالوعاءِ من الجلدِ إذا امتلأ ولم يُمزَّقْ انفجرَ من ذاته. ارجِعوا إذًا إلى الرَّبِّ إلهِكم الذي أبعدَتْكم عنه خطاياكم السَّابقة. ولا تَيأسُوا من الغفران بسببِ عِظَمِ الآثام: فإنَّ الخطايا الكبيرةَ تمحوها الرَّحمةُ الكبيرة.
    "إنَّه حَنُونٌ رَحِيمٌ" (يوئيل 2: 13)، يُريدُ توبةَ الخاطئِ لا موتَه. إنَّه صبورٌ وكثيرُ الرَّحمة. وليس قليلَ الصَّبرِ مِثلَ الإنسان. بل يصبرُ علينا وقتًا طويلًا حتى نتوبَ. إنّه "طَوِيلُ الأنَاةِ، وَنَادِمٌ عَلَى الشَّرِّ" (يوئيل 2: 13). فإنْ تُبْنا عن خطايانا تابَ هو أيضًا علينا، ورجَعَ عن وعيدِه، ولم يُنفِّذْ الشَّرَّ الذي أنذرَنا به. وإنْ بدَّلْنا نحن من أنفسِنا بدَّلَ هو حكمَه علينا. والشَّرُّ المذكورُ هنا والذي كانَ يجبُ أن نتقبَّلَه (مقابلَ خطايانا)، ليس الشَّرَّ المناقضَ للفضيلة، بل هو ما قِيلَ فيه في مكانٍ آخَرَ من الكتابِ: " يَكفِي كلَّ يومٍ شرُّهُ". وأيضًا: "هل في المدينةِ شرٌّ لم يصنعْه الله؟"
    قالَ النَّبيُّ في ما سبقَ: "إنَّه حَنُونٌ رَحِيمٌ، طَوِيلُ الأنَاةِ كَثِيرُ الرَّحمَةِ، وَنَادِمٌ عَلَى الشَّرِّ" (يوئيل 2: 13). ولكن، لأنّ رحمةَ الله العظيمةَ قد تحمِلُنا على الإهمال، أضافَ النَّبيُّ وقال: "مَن يعرِفُ؟ لعلَّه يرجِعُ ويندَمُ ويُبقِي وراءَه بَرَكَة" (ر. يوئيل 2: 13- 14). يقولُ النَّبيُّ: أنا، بحسبِ ما أَرَى، أحثُّكم على التَّوبة. وأنا أعلمُ أنَّ الله رحيمٌ إلى أبعدِ حدودِ الرَّحمة، كما قالَ داودُ النَّبيّ: "ارحَمْنِي يَا الله بعَظِيمِ رَحمَتِكَ، وَبِكَثرَةِ رَأفَتِكَ امحُ مَعَاصِيَّ" (مزمور 50: 3). ولكنْ، بما أنَّنا لا نقدرُ أن نسبِرَ غَورَ غنى الله وحكمتِه وعلمِه، فإني أخفِّفُ من معنى كلامي، فأنا أتمنَّى أكثرَ ممّا أدَّعِي أو أؤَكِّدُ، أتمنَّى أن يَغفِرَ لنا ويَرحَمَنا. ولهذا أقول: "من يَعلمُ؟ لعلَّه يرجعُ ويغفرُ". وحين يقول: "مَن يَعلَم؟"، يجبُ أن نفهمَ أنَّ الأمرَ قد يكونُ مستحيلًا أو صعبًا جِدًّا.
    ثم قولُه: "تَقدِمَةً وَسَكِيبًا لِلرَّبِّ إلَهِنَا" (يوئيل 2: 14)، يَعنِي أنّه من واجبِنا أن نقرِّبَ القرابينَ لله، بعدَ أن يمنحَنا البركةَ ويغفرَ لنا خطايانا. 

الردة   ر. مزمور 23: 4؛ 2 قورنتس 6: 6؛ قولسي 2: 24؛ يوئيل 2: 13

    تُوبُوا إلى الله جميعًا، بقلبٍ نقيٍّ ونفسٍ طاهرة، وحبٍّ صادقٍ. لِيُمحَى صَكُّ خطاياكم. 

    مَزِّقُوا قُلُوبَكُم لا ثِيَابَكُم، وَارجِعُوا إلَى الرَّبِّ إلَهِكُم.

    لِيُمحَى صَكُّ خطاياكم.


From a homily by Saint Bede the Venerable, priest


(Hom. 23: CCL 122, 354, 356-357)

Precursor of Christ in birth and death


As forerunner of our Lord's birth, preaching and death, the blessed John showed in his struggle a goodness worthy of the sight of heaven. In the words of Scripture: Though in the sight of men he suffered torments, his hope is full of immortality. We justly commemorate the day of his birth with a joyful celebration, a day which he himself made festive for us through his suffering and which he adorned with the crimson splendor of his own blood. We do rightly revere his memory with joyful hearts, for he stamped with the seal of martyrdom the testimony which he delivered on behalf of our Lord.

There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: I am the truth? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.

Through his birth, preaching and baptizing, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ, and by his own suffering he showed that Christ also would suffer.

Such was the quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptized in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptize the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him, and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.

Since death was ever near at hand through the inescapable necessity of nature, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ's name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake. He tells us why it is Christ's gift that his chosen ones should suffer for him: The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.

De las homilías de san Beda el Venerable, presbítero


(Homilía 23: CCL 122, 354. 356-357)
PRECURSOR DEL NACIMIENTO Y DE LA MUERTE DE CRISTO

El santo Precursor del nacimiento, de la predicación y de la muerte del Señor mostró en el momento de la lucha suprema una fortaleza digna de atraer la mirada de Dios ya que, como dice la Escritura, la gente pensaba que cumplía una pena, pero él esperaba de lleno la inmortalidad. Con razón celebramos su día natalicio, que él ha solemnizado con su martirio y adornado con el fulgor purpúreo de su sangre; con razón veneramos con gozo espiritual la memoria de aquel que selló con su martirio el testimonio que había dado del Señor.
No debemos poner en duda que san Juan sufrió la cárcel y las cadenas y dio su vida en testimonio de nuestro Redentor, de quien fue precursor, ya que, si bien su perseguidor no lo forzó a que negara a Cristo, sí trató de obligarlo a que callara la verdad; ello es suficiente para afirmar que murió por Cristo.
Cristo, en efecto, dice: Yo soy la verdad; por consiguiente, si Juan derramó su sangre por la verdad, la derramó por Cristo; y él, que precedió a Cristo en su nacimiento, en su predicación y en su bautismo, anunció también con su martirio, anterior al de Cristo, la pasión futura del Señor.
Este hombre tan eximio terminó, pues, su vida derramando su sangre, después de un largo y penoso cautiverio. Él que había evangelizado la libertad de una paz que viene de arriba, fue encarcelado por unos hombres malvados; fue encerrado en la oscuridad de un calabozo aquel que vino a dar testimonio de la luz y a quien Cristo, la luz en persona, dio el título de "lámpara que arde y brilla"; fue bautizado en su propia sangre aquel a quien fue dado bautizar al Redentor del mundo, oír la voz del Padre que resonaba sobre Cristo y ver la gracia del Espíritu Santo que descendía sobre él. Mas, a él, todos aquellos tormentos temporales no le resultaban penosos, sino más bien leves y agradables, ya que los sufría por causa de la verdad y sabía que habían de merecerle un premio y un gozo sin fin.
La muerte —que de todas maneras había de acaecerle por ley natural— era para él algo apetecible, teniendo en cuenta que la sufría por la confesión del nombre de Cristo y que con ella alcanzaría la palma de la vida eterna. Bien lo dice el Apóstol: A vosotros se os ha concedido la gracia de estar del lado de Cristo, no sólo creyendo en él, sino sufriendo por él. El mismo Apóstol explica, en otro lugar, por qué sea un don el hecho de sufrir por Cristo: Los sufrimientos de ahora no pesan lo que la gloria que un día se nos descubrirá.

jeudi 28 août 2014

Il cappuccio e il volto - di Clemente Sparaco | Riscossa Cristiana

http://www.riscossacristiana.it/il-cappuccio-il-volto-di-clemente-sparaco/

A New Fatima Secret?...

Italian religious commentator Antonio Socci, whom we admire, has a very interesting, almost entertaining, book on what he calls, "the fourth Secret of Fatima," a supposed missing passage of the private revelations originally made in Fatima, Portugal, and put into writing many years later. In the past few days, he has insisted on it (excerpts in English), based on some passages of a newly published biography of Sister Lucia. It must be said that a not so interesting part of Socci's original book were his frequent mentions of... Medjugorje.

Anyway, missing or not, what really matters is that the message of Fatima is the message of Lourdes, which is the message of Our Lord:

"The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel." (Mk 1:15)

_____________________________________


Let us then recall Pope Benedict XVI's words in his own last visit to Fatima, on May 13, 2010, remembering precisely the time of her apparition, amidst the world of the Great War (cf. our post from that day) -- is it not enough?


We would be mistaken to think that Fatima's prophetic mission is complete. Here there takes on new life the plan of God which asks humanity from the beginning: "Where is your brother Abel […] Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground!" (Gen 4:9). Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end… In sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and he does the same here, in Fatima, when Our Lady asks: "Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which he will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?" (Memoirs of Sister Lúcia, I, 162).


At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interests of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from heaven, offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart. At that time it was only to three children, yet the example of their lives spread and multiplied, especially as a result of the travels of the Pilgrim Virgin, in countless groups throughout the world dedicated to the cause of fraternal solidarity. May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.


Amen, amen, amen. "And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Leo XIII - Mirae caritatis


MIRAE CARITATIS
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII 
ON THE HOLY EUCHARIST

 

To Our Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates,
Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries,
having Peace and Communion with the Holy See.

Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

To examine into the nature and to promote the effects of those manifestations of His wondrous love which, like rays of light, stream forth from Jesus Christ - this, as befits Our sacred office, has ever been, and this, with His help, to the last breath of Our life will ever be Our earnest aim and endeavour. For, whereas Our lot has been cast in an age that is bitterly hostile to justice and truth, we have not failed, as you have been reminded by the Apostolic letter which we recently addressed to you, to do what in us lay, by Our instructions and admonitions, and by such practical measures as seemed best suited for their purpose, to dissipate the contagion of error in its many shapes, and to strengthen the sinews of the Christian life. Among these efforts of Ours there are two in particular, of recent memory, closely related to each other, from the recollection whereof we gather some fruit of comfort, the more seasonable by reason of the many causes of sorrow that weigh us down. One of these is the occasion on which We directed, as a thing most desirable, that the entire human race should be consecrated by a special act to the Sacred Heart of Christ our Redeemer; the other that on which We so urgently exhorted all those who bear the name Christian to cling loyally to Him Who, by divine ordinance, is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life," not for individuals alone bur for every rightly constituted society. And now that same apostolic charity, ever watchful over the vicissitudes of the Church, moves and in a manner compels Us to add one thing more, in order to fill up the measure of what We have already conceived and carried out. This is, to commend to all Christians, more earnestly than heretofore, the all - holy Eucharist, forasmuch as it is a divine gift proceeding from the very Heart of the Redeemer, Who "with desire desireth" this singular mode of union with men, a gift most admirably adapted to be the means whereby the salutary fruits of His redemption may be distributed. Indeed We have not failed in the past, more than once, to use Our authority and to exercise Our zeal in this behalf. It gives Us much pleasure to recall to mind that We have officially approved, and enriched with canonical privileges, not a few institutions and confraternities having for their object the perpetual adoration of the Sacred Host; that We have encouraged the holding of Eucharistic Congresses, the results of which have been as profitable as the attendance at them has been numerous and distinguished; that We have designated as the heavenly patron of these and similar undertakings St. Paschal Baylon, whose devotion to the mystery of the Eucharist was so extraordinary.

2. Accordingly, Venerable Brethren, it has seemed good to Us to address you on certain points connected with this same mystery, for the defence and honour of which the solicitude of the Church has been so constantly engaged, for which Martyrs have given their lives, which has afforded to men of the highest genius a theme to be illustrated by their learning, their eloquence, their skill in all the arts; and this We will do in order to render more clearly evident and more widely known those special characteristics by virtue of which it is so singularly adapted to the needs of these our times. It was towards the close of His mortal life that Christ our Lord left this memorial of His measureless love for men, this powerful means of support "for the life of the world" (St. John vi., 52). And precisely for this reason, We, being so soon to depart from this life, can wish for nothing better than that it may be granted to us to stir up and foster in the hearts of all men the dispositions of mindful gratitude and due devotion towards this wondrous Sacrament, wherein most especially lie, as We hold, the hope and the efficient cause of salvation and of that peace which all men so anxiously seek.

3. Some there are, no doubt, who will express their surprise that for the manifold troubles and grievous afflictions by which our age is harassed We should have determined to seek for remedies and redress in this quarter rather than elsewhere, and in some, perchance, Our words will excite a certain peevish disgust. But this is only the natural result of pride; for when this vice has taken possession of the heart, it is inevitable that Christian faith, which demands a most willing docility, should languish, and that a murky darkness in regard of divine truths should close in upon the mind; so that in the case of many these words should be made good: "Whatever things they know not, they blaspheme" (St. Jude, 10). We, however, so far from being hereby turned aside from the design which We have taken in hand, are on the contrary determined all the more zealously and diligently to hold up the light for the guidance of the well disposed, and, with the help of the united prayers of the faithful, earnestly to implore forgiveness for those who speak evil of holy things.

The Source of Life

4. To know with an entire faith what is the excellence of the Most Holy Eucharist is in truth to know what that work is which, in the might of His mercy, God, made man, carried out on behalf of the human race. For as a right faith teaches us to acknowledge and to worship Christ as the sovereign cause of our salvation, since He by His wisdom, His laws, His ordinances, His example, and by the shedding of His blood, made all things new; so the same faith likewise teaches us to acknowledge Him and to worship Him as really present in the Eucharist, as verily abiding through all time in the midst of men, in order that as their Master, their Good Shepherd, their most acceptable Advocate with the Father, He may impart to them of His own inexhaustible abundance the benefits of that redemption which He has accomplished. Now if any one will seriously consider the benefits which flow from the Eucharist he will understand that conspicuous and chief among them all is that in which the rest, without exception, are included; in a word it is for men the source of life, of that life which best deserves the name. "The bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world" (St. John vi., 52). In more than one way, as We have elsewhere declared, is Christ "the life." He Himself declared that the reason of His advent among men was this, that He might bring them the assured fulness of a more than merely human life. "I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly" (St. John x., 10). Everyone is aware that no sooner had "the goodness and kindness of God our Saviour appeared" (Tit. iii., 4), than there at once burst forth a certain creative force which issued in a new order of things and pused through all the veins of society, civil and domestic. Hence arose new relations between man and man; new rights and new duties, public and private; henceforth a new direction was given to government, to education, to the arts; and most important of all, man's thoughts and energies were turned towards religious truth and the pursuit of holiness. Thus was life communicated to man, a life truly heavenly and divine. And thus we are to account for those expressions which so often occur in Holy Writ, "the tree of life," "the word of life," "the book of life," "the crown of life," and particularly "the bread of life."

5. But now, since this life of which We are speaking bears a definite resemblance to the natural life of man, as the one draws its nourishment and strength from food, so also the other must have its own food whereby it may be sustained and augmented. And here it will be opportune to recall to mind on what occasion and in what manner Christ moved and prepared the hearts of men for the worthy and due reception of the living bread which He was about to give them. No sooner had the rumour spread of the miracle which He had wrought on the shores of the lake of Tiberias, when with the multiplied loaves He fed the multitude, than many forthwith flocked to Him in the hope that they, too, perchance, might be the recipients of like favour. And, just as He had taken occasion from the water which she had drawn from the well to stir up in the Samaritan woman a thirst for that "water which springeth up unto life everlasting" (St. John iv., 14), so now Jesus availed Himself of this opportunity to excite in the minds of the multitude a keen hunger for the bread "which endureth unto life everlasting" (St. John vi., 27). Or, as He was careful to explain to them, was the bread which He promised the same as that heavenly manna which had been given to their fathers during their wanderings in the desert, or again the same as that which, to their amazement, they had recently received from Him; but He was Himself that bread: "I," said He, "am the bread of life" (St. John vi., 48). And He urges this still further upon them all both by invitation and by precept: "if any man shall eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world" (St. John vi., 52). And in these other words He brings home to them the gravity of the precept: "Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you shall eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you" (St. John vi., 54). Away then with the widespread but most mischievous error of those who give it as their opinion that the reception of the Eucharist is in a manner reserved for those narrow-minded persons (as they are deemed) who rid themselves of the cares of the world in order to find rest in some kind of professedly religious life. For this gift, than which nothing can be more excellent or more conducive to salvation, is offered to all those, whatever their office or dignity may be, who wish - as every one ought to wish - to foster in themselves that life of divine grace whose goal is the attainment of the life of blessedness with God.

6. Indeed it is greatly to be desired that those men would rightly esteem and would make due provision for life everlasting, whose industry or talents or rank have put it in their power to shape the course of human events. But alas! we see with sorrow that such men too often proudly flatter themselves that they have conferred upon this world as it were a fresh lease of life and prosperity, inasmuch as by their own energetic action they are urging it on to the race for wealth, to a struggle for the possession of commodities which minister to the love of comfort and display. And yet, whithersoever we turn, we see that human society, if it be estranged from God, instead of enjoying that peace in its possessions for which it had sought, is shaken and tossed like one who is in the agony and heat of fever; for while it anxiously strives for prosperity, and trusts to it alone, it is pursuing an object that ever escapes it, clinging to one that ever eludes the grasp. For as men and states alike necessarily have their being from God, so they can do nothing good except in God through Jesus Christ, through whom every best and choicest gift has ever proceeded and proceeds. But the source and chief of all these gifts is the venerable Eucharist, which not only nourishes and sustains that life the desire whereof demands our most strenuous efforts, but also enhances beyond measure that dignity of man of which in these days we hear so much. For what can be more honourable or a more worthy object of desire than to be made, as far as possible, sharers and partakers in the divine nature? Now this is precisely what Christ does for us in the Eucharist, wherein, after having raised man by the operation of His grace to a supernatural state, he yet more closely associates and unites him with Himself. For there is this difference between the food of the body and that of the soul, that whereas the former is changed into our substance, the latter changes us into its own; so that St. Augustine makes Christ Himself say: "You shall not change Me into yourself as you do the food of your body, but you shall be changed into Me" (confessions 1. vii., c. x.).

The Mystery of Faith

7. Moreover, in this most admirable Sacrament, which is the chief means whereby men are engrafted on the divine nature, men also find the most efficacious help towards progress in every kind of virtue. And first of all in faith. In all ages faith has been attacked; for although it elevates the human mind by bestowing on it the knowledge of the highest truths, yet because, while it makes known the existence of divine mysteries, it yet leaves in obscurity the mode of their being, it is therefore thought to degrade the intellect. But whereas in past times particular articles of faith have been made by turns the object of attack; the seat of war has since been enlarged and extended, until it has come to this, that men deny altogether that there is anything above and beyond nature. Now nothing can be better adapted to promote a renewal of the strength and fervour of faith in the human mind than the mystery of the Eucharist, the "mystery of faith," as it has been most appropriately called. For in this one mystery the entire supernatural order, with all its wealth and variety of wonders, is in a manner summed up and contained: "He hath made a remembrance of His wonderful works, a merciful and gracious Lord; He bath given food to them that fear Him" (Psalm cx, 4-5). For whereas God has subordinated the whole supernatural order to the Incarnation of His Word, in virtue whereof salvation has been restored to the human race, according to those words of the Apostle; "He bath purposed...to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in Him" (Eph. i., 9-10), the Eucharist, according to the testimony of the holy Fathers, should be regarded as in a manner a continuation and extension of the Incarnation. For in and by it the substance of the incarnate Word is united with individual men, and the supreme Sacrifice offered on Calvary is in a wondrous manner renewed, as was signified beforehand by Malachy in the words: "In every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to My name a pure oblation" (Mal. i., II). And this miracle, itself the very greatest of its kind, is accompanied by innumerable other miracles; for here all the laws of nature are suspended; the whole substance of the bread and wine are changed into the Body and the Blood; the species of bread and wine are sustained by the divine power without the support of any underlying substance; the Body of Christ is present in many places at the same time, that is to say, wherever the Sacrament is consecrated. And in order that human reason may the more willingly pay its homage to this great mystery, there have not been wanting, as an aid to faith, certain prodigies wrought in His honour, both in ancient times and in our own, of which in more than one place there exist public and notable records and memorials. It is plain that by this Sacrament faith is fed, in it the mind finds its nourishment, the objections of rationalists are brought to naught, and abundant light is thrown on the supernatural order.

8. But that decay of faith in divine things of which We have spoken is the effect not only of pride, but also of moral corruption. For if it is true that a strict morality improves the quickness of man's intellectual powers, and if on the other hand, as the maxims of pagan philosophy and the admonitions of divine wisdom combine to teach us, the keenness of the mind is blunted by bodily pleasures, how much more, in the region of revealed truths, do these same pleasures obscure the light of faith, or even, by the just judgment of God, entirely extinguish it. For these pleasures at the present day an insatiable appetite rages, infecting all classes as with an infectious disease, even from tender years. Yet even for so terrible an evil there is a remedy close at hand in the divine Eucharist. For in the first place it puts a check on lust by increasing charity, according to the words of St. Augustine, who says, speaking of charity, "As it grows, lust diminishes; when it reaches perfection, lust is no more" (De diversis quaestionibus, lxxxiii., q. 36). Moreover the most chaste flesh of Jesus keeps down the rebellion of our flesh, as St. Cyril of Alexandria taught, "For Christ abiding in us lulls to sleep the law of the flesh which rages in our members" (Lib. iv., c. ii., in Joan., vi., 57). Then too the special and most pleasant fruit of the Eucharist is that which is signified in the words of the prophet: "What is the good thing of Him," that is, of Christ, "and what is His beautiful thing, but the corn of the elect and the wine that engendereth virgins" (Zach. ix., 17), producing, in other words, that flower and fruitage of a strong and constant purpose of virginity which, even in an age enervated by luxury, is daily multiplied and spread abroad in the Catholic Church, with those advantages to religion and to human society, wherever it is found, which are plain to see.

9. To this it must be added that by this same Sacrament our hope of everlasting blessedness, based on our trust in the divine assistance, is wonderfully strengthened. For the edge of that longing for happiness which is so deeply rooted in the hearts of all men from their birth is whetted even more and more by the experience of the deceitfulness of earthly goods, by the unjust violence of wicked men, and by all those other afflictions to which mind and body are subject. Now the venerable Sacrament of the Eucharist is both the source and the pledge of blessedness and of glory, and this, not for the soul alone, but for the body also. For it enriches the soul with an abundance of heavenly blessings, and fills it with a sweet joy which far surpasses man's hope and expectations; it sustains him in adversity, strengthens him in the spiritual combat, preserves him for life everlasting, and as a special provision for the journey accompanies him thither. And in the frail and perishable body that divine Host, which is the immortal Body of Christ, implants a principle of resurrection, a seed of immortality, which one day must germinate. That to this source man's soul and body will be indebted for both these boons has been the constant teaching of the Church, which has dutifully reaffirmed the affirmation of Christ: "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood bath everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (St. John vi., 55).

10. In connection with this matter it is of importance to consider that in the Eucharist, seeing that it was instituted by Christ as "a perpetual memorial of His Passion" (Opusc. lvii. Offic. de festo Corporis Christi), is proclaimed to the Christian the necessity of a salutary self-chastisement. For Jesus said to those first priests of His: "Do this in memory of Me" (Luke xxii, 18); that is to say, do this for the commemoration of My pains, My sorrows, My grievous afflictions, My death upon the Cross. Wherefore this Sacrament is at the same time a Sacrifice, seasonable throughout the entire period of our penance; and it is likewise a standing exhortation to all manner of toil, and a solemn and severe rebuke to those carnal pleasures which some are not ashamed so highly to praise and extol: "As often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink this chalice, ye shall announce the death of the Lord, until He come" (1 Cor. xi., 26).

The Bond of Charity

11. Furthermore, if anyone will diligently examine into the causes of the evils of our day, he will find that they arise from this, that as charity towards God has grown cold, the mutual charity of men among themselves has likewise cooled. Men have forgotten that they are children of God and brethren in Jesus Christ; they care for nothing except their own individual interests; the interests and the rights of others they not only make light of, but often attack and invade. Hence frequent disturbances and strifes between class and class: arrogance, oppression, fraud on the part of the more powerful: misery, envy, and turbulence among the poor. These are evils for which it is in vain to seek a remedy in legislation, in threats of penalties to be incurred, or in any other device of merely human prudence. Our chief care and endeavour ought to be, according to the admonitions which We have more than once given at considerable length, to secure the union of classes in a mutual interchange of dutiful services, a union which, having its origin in God, shall issue in deeds that reflect the true spirit of Jesus Christ and a genuine charity. This charity Christ brought into the world, with it He would have all hearts on fire. For it alone is capable of affording to soul and body alike, even in this life, a foretaste of blessedness; since it restrains man's inordinate self-love, and puts a check on avarice, which "is the root of all evil" (1 Tim. vi., 10). And whereas it is right to uphold all the claims of justice as between the various classes of society, nevertheless it is only with the efficacious aid of charity, which tempers justice, that the "equality" which St. Paul commended (2 Cor. viii., 14), and which is so salutary for human society, can be established and maintained. This then is what Christ intended when he instituted this Venerable Sacrament, namely, by awakening charity towards God to promote mutual charity among men. For the latter, as is plain, is by its very nature rooted in the former, and springs from it by a kind of spontaneous growth. Nor is it possible that there should be any lack of charity among men, or rather it must needs be enkindled and flourish, if men would but ponder well the charity which Christ has shown in this Sacrament. For in it He has not only given a splendid manifestation of His power and wisdom, but "has in a manner poured out the riches of His divine love towards men" (Conc. Trid., Sess. XIIL, De Euch. c. ii.). Having before our eyes this noble example set us by Christ, Who bestows on us all that He has assuredly we ought to love and help one another to the utmost, being daily more closely united by the strong bond of brotherhood. Add to this that the outward and visible elements of this Sacrament supply a singularly appropriate stimulus to union. On this topic St. Cyprian writes: "In a word the Lord's sacrifice symbolises the oneness of heart, guaranteed by a persevering and inviolable charity, which should prevail among Christians. For when our Lord calls His Body bread, a substance which is kneaded together out of many grains, He indicates that we His people, whom He sustains, are bound together in close union; and when He speaks of His Blood as wine, in which the juice pressed from many clusters of grapes is mingled in one fluid, He likewise indicates that we His flock are by the commingling of a multitude of persons made one" (Ep. 96 ad Magnum n. 5 (a1.6)). In like manner the angelic Doctor, adopting the sentiments of St. Augustine (Tract. xxxvi., in Joan. nn. 13, 17), writes: "Our Lord has bequeathed to us His Body and Blood under the form of substances in which a multitude of things have been reduced to unity, for one of them, namely bread, consisting as it does of many grains is yet one, and the other, that is to say wine, has its unity of being from the confluent juice of many grapes; and therefore St. Augustine elsewhere says: 'O Sacrament of mercy, O sign of unity, O bond of charity!' " (Summ. Theol. P. IIL, q. lxxix., a.l.). All of which is confirmed by the declaration of the Council of Trent that Christ left the Eucharist in His Church "as a symbol of that unity and charity whereby He would have all Christians mutually joined and united. . . a symbol of that one body of which He is Himself the head, and to which He would have us, as members attached by the closest bonds of faith, hope, and charity" (Conc. Trid., Sess. XIIL, De Euchar., c. ii.). The same idea had been expressed by St. Paul when he wrote: "For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all we who partake of the one bread" (I Cor. x., 17). Very beautiful and joyful too is the spectacle of Christian brotherhood and social equality which is afforded when men of all conditions, gentle and simple, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, gather round the holy altar, all sharing alike in this heavenly banquet. And if in the records of the Church it is deservedly reckoned to the special credit of its first ages that "the multitude of the believers had but one heart and one soul" (Acts iv., 32), there can be no shadow of doubt that this immense blessing was due to their frequent meetings at the Divine table; for we find it recorded of them: "They were persevering in the doctrine of the Apostles and in the communion of the breaking of bread" (Acts ii., 42).

12. Besides all this, the grace of mutual charity among the living, which derives from the Sacrament of the Eucharist so great an increase of strength, is further extended by virtue of the Sacrifice to all those who are numbered in the Communion of Saints. For the Communion of Saints, as everyone knows, is nothing but the mutual communication of help, expiation, prayers, blessings, among all the faithful, who, whether they have already attained to the heavenly country, or are detained in the purgatorial fire, or are yet exiles here on earth, all enjoy the common franchise of that city whereof Christ is the head, and the constitution is charity. For faith teaches us, that although the venerable Sacrifice may be lawfully offered to God alone, yet it may be celebrated in honour of the saints reigning in heaven with God Who has crowned them, in order that we may gain for ourselves their patronage. And it may also be offered - in accordance with an apostolic tradition - for the purpose of expiating the sins of those of the brethren who, having died in the Lord, have not yet fully paid the penalty of their transgressions.

13. That genuine charity, therefore, which knows how to do and to suffer all things for the salvation and the benefit of all, leaps forth with all the heat and energy of a flame from that most holy Eucharist in which Christ Himself is present and lives, in which He indulges to the utmost. His love towards us, and under the impulse of that divine love ceaselessly renews His Sacrifice. And thus it is not difficult to see whence the arduous labours of apostolic men, and whence those innumerable designs of every kind for the welfare of the human race which have been set on foot among Catholics, derive their origin, their strength, their permanence, their success.

14. These few words on a subject so vast will, we doubt not, prove most helpful to the Christian flock, if you in your zeal, Venerable Brethren, will cause them to be expounded and enforced as time and occasion may serve. But indeed a Sacrament so great and so rich in all manner of blessings can never be extolled as it deserves by human eloquence, nor adequately venerated by the worship of man. This Sacrament, whether as the theme of devout meditation, or as the object of public adoration, or best of all as a food to be received in the utmost purity of conscience, is to be regarded as the centre towards which the spiritual life of a Christian in all its ambit gravitates; for all other forms of devotion, whatsoever they may be, lead up to it, and in it find their point of rest. In this mystery more than in any other that gracious invitation and still more gracious promise of Christ is realised and finds its daily fulfilment: "Come to me all ye that labour and are heavily burdened, and I will refresh you" (St. Matt. xi., 28).

15. In a word this Sacrament is, as it were, the very soul of the Church; and to it the grace of the priesthood is ordered and directed in all its fulness and in each of its successive grades. From the same source the Church draws and has all her strength, all her glory, her every supernatural endowment and adornment, every good thing that is here; wherefore she makes it the chiefest of all her cares to prepare the hearts of the faithful for an intimate union with Christ through the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, and to draw them thereto. And to this end she strives to promote the veneration of the august mystery by surrounding it with holy ceremonies. To this ceaseless and ever watchful care of the Church or Mother, our attention is drawn by that exhortation which was uttered by the holy Council of Trent, and which is so much to the purpose that for the benefit of the Christian people We here reproduce it in its entirety. "The Holy Synod admonishes, exhorts, asks and implores by the tender mercy of our God, that all and each of those who bear the name of Christian should at last unite and find peace in this sign of unity, in this bond of charity, in this symbol of concord; and that, mindful of the great majesty and singular love of Jesus Christ our Lord, Who gave His precious life as the price of our salvation, and His flesh for our food, they should believe and revere these sacred mysteries of His Body and Blood with such constancy of unwavering faith, with such interior devotion and worshipful piety, that they may be in condition to receive frequently that supersubstantial bread, and that it may be to them the life of their souls and keep their mind in soundness of faith; so that strengthened with its strength they may be enabled after the journey of this sorrowful pilgrimage to reach the heavenly country, there to see and feed upon that bread of angels which here they eat under the sacramental veils" (Conc. Trid., Sess. XXII, c. vi).

16. History bears witness that the virtues of the Christian life have flourished best wherever and whenever the frequent reception of the Eucharist has most prevailed. And on the other hand it is no less certain that in days when men have ceased to care for this heavenly bread, and have lost their appetite for it, the practice of Christian religion has gradually lost its force and vigour. And indeed it was a needful measure of precaution against a complete falling away that Innocent III, in the Council of the Lateran, most strictly enjoined that no Christian should abstain from receiving the communion of the Lord's Body at least in the solemn paschal season. But it is clear that this precept was imposed with regret, and only as a last resource; for it has always been the desire of the Church that at every Mass some of the faithful should be present and should communicate. "The holy Synod would wish that in every celebration of the Mass some of the faithful should take part, not only by devoutly assisting thereat, but also by the sacramental reception of the Eucharist, in order that they might more abundantly partake of the fruits of this holy Sacrifice" (conc. Trid., Sess. XIII. de Euchar. c. viii).

The Sacrifice of the Mass

17. Most abundant, assuredly, are the salutary benefits which are stored up in this most venerable mystery, regarded as a Sacrifice; a Sacrifice which the Church is accordingly wont to offer daily "for the salvation of the whole world." And it is fitting, indeed in this age it is specially important, that by means of the united efforts of the devout, the outward honour and the inward reverence paid to this Sacrifice should be alike increased. Accordingly it is our wish that its manifold excellence may be both more widely known and more attentively considered. There are certain general principles the truth of which can be plainly perceived by the light of reason; for instance, that the dominion of God our Creator and Preserver over all men, whether in their private or in their public life, is supreme and absolute; that our whole being and all that we possess, whether individually or as members of society, comes from the divine bounty; that we on our part are bound to show to God, as our Lord, the highest reverence, and, as He is our greatest benefactor, the deepest gratitude. But how many are there who at the present day acknowledge and discharge these duties with full and exact observance? In no age has the spirit of contumacy and an attitude of defiance towards God been more prevalent than in our own; an age in which that unholy cry of the enemies of Christ: "We will not have this man to rule over us" (Luke xix., 14), makes itself more and more loudly heard, together with the utterance of that wicked purpose: "let us make away with Him" (Jer. xi., II); nor is there any motive by which many are hurried on with more passionate fury, than the desire utterly to banish God not only from the civil government, but from every form of human society. And although men do not everywhere proceed to this extremity of criminal madness, it is a lamentable thing that so many are sunk in oblivion of the divine Majesty and of His favours, and in particular of the salvation wrought for us by Christ. Now a remedy must be found for this wickedness on the one hand, and this sloth on the other, in a general increase among the faithful of fervent devotion towards the Eucharistic Sacrifice, than which nothing can give greater honour, nothing be more pleasing, to God. For it is a divine Victim which is here immolated; and accordingly through this Victim we offer to the most blessed Trinity all that honour which the infinite dignity of the Godhead demands; infinite in value and infinitely acceptable is the gift which we present to the Father in His only-begotten son; so that for His benefits to us we not only signify our gratitude, but actually make an adequate return.

18. Moreover there is another twofold fruit which we may and must derive from this great Sacrifice. The heart is saddened when it considers what a flood of wickedness, the result - as We have said - of forgetfulness and contempt of the divine Majesty, has inundated the world. It is not too much to say that a great part of the human race seems to be calling down upon itself the anger of heaven; though indeed the crop of evils which has grown up here on earth is already ripening to a just judgment. Here then is a motive whereby the faithful may be stirred to a devout and earnest endeavour to appease God the avenger of sin, and to win from Him the help which is so needful in these calamitous times. And they should see that such blessings are to be sought principally by means of this Sacrifice. For it is only in virtue of the death which Christ suffered that men can satisfy, and that most abundantly, the demands of God's justice, and can obtain the plenteous gifts of His clemency. And Christ has willed that the whole virtue of His death, alike for expiation and impetration, should abide in the Eucharist, which is no mere empty commemoration thereof, but a true and wonderful though bloodless and mystical renewal of it.

19. To conclude, we gladly acknowledge that it has been a cause of no small joy to us that during these last years a renewal of love and devotion towards the Sacrament of the Eucharist has, as it seems, begun to show itself in the hearts of the faithful; a fact which encourages us to hope for better times and a more favourable state of affairs. Many and varied, as we said at the commencement, are the expedients which an inventive piety has devised; and worthy of special mention are the confraternities instituted either with the object of carrying out the Eucharistic ritual with greater splendour, or for the perpetual adoration of the venerable Sacrament by day and night, or for the purpose of making reparation for the blasphemies and insults of which it is the object. But neither We nor you, Venerable Brethren, can allow ourselves to rest satisfied with what has hitherto been done; for there remain many things which must be further developed or begun anew, to the end that this most divine of gifts this greatest of mysteries, may be better understood and more worthily honoured and revered, even by those who already take their part in the religious services of the Church. Wherefore, works of this kind which have been already set on foot must be ever more zealously promoted; old undertakings must be revived wherever perchance they may have fallen into decay; for instance, Confraternities of the holy Eucharist, intercessory prayers before the blessed Sacrament exposed for the veneration of the faithful, solemn processions, devout visits to God's tabernacle, and other holy and salutary practices of some kind; nothing must be omitted which a prudent piety may suggest as suitable. But the chief aim of our efforts must be that the frequent reception of the Eucharist may be everywhere revived among Catholic peoples. For this is the lesson which is taught us by the example, already referred to, of the primitive Church, by the decrees of Councils, by the authority of the Fathers and of the holy men in all ages. For the soul, like the body, needs frequent nourishment; and the holy Eucharist provides that food which is best adapted to the support of its life. Accordingly all hostile prejudices, those vain fears to which so many yield, and their specious excuses from abstaining from the Eucharist, must be resolutely put aside; for there is question here of a gift than which none other can be more serviceable to the faithful people, either for the redeeming of time from the tyranny of anxious cares concerning perishable things, or for the renewal of the Christian spirit and perseverance therein. To this end the exhortations and example of all those who occupy a prominent position will powerfully contribute, but most especially the resourceful and diligent zeal of the clergy. For priests, to whom Christ our Redeemer entrusted the office of consecrating and dispensing the mystery of His Body and Blood, can assuredly make no better return for the honour which has been conferred upon them, than by promoting with all their might the glory of his Eucharist, and by inviting and drawing the hearts of men to the health-giving springs of this great Sacrament and Sacrifice, seconding hereby the longings of His most Sacred Heart.

20. May God grant that thus, in accordance with Our earnest desire, the excellent fruits of the Eucharist may daily manifest themselves in greater abundance, to the happy increase of faith, hope, and charity, and of ail Christian virtues; and may this turn to the recovery and advantage of the whole body politic; and may the wisdom of God's most provident charity, Who instituted this mystery for all time "for the life of the world," shine forth with an ever brighter sight.

21. Encouraged by such hopes as these, Venerable Brethren, We, as a presage of the divine liberality and as a pledge of our own charity, most lovingly bestow on each of you, and on the clergy and flock committed to the care of each, our Apostolic Benediction.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter's on the 28th day of May, being the Vigil of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, in the year 1902, of Our Pontificate the five and twentieth.

LEO XIII

 

© Copyright 1902 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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