We are pleased to bring our readers two sermons from His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, and titular bishop of Celerina. Bishop Schneider was in the United States this past weekend for events and priestly ordinations for the Canons of New Jerusalem. Please see below for the texts of these two powerful and timely sermons.
The Family - Domestic Church, Front Royal, Virginia
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ! We live in a time in which one of the most beautiful creations of God, namely marriage and family, are under general attack on the side of the new atheist, neo-Communist world ideological dictatorship which gained almost universal political and media power. However, it is enigmatic that we can discover in our days collaborators with this general attack on marriage and family even in the ranks of the clergy. The Christian family is facing a kind of a new Goliath.
But right now we are called to be faithful to the unchangeable truth of our Catholic and Apostolic Faith, which our fathers and forefathers had transmitted to us. We have a chance to be courageous witnesses of the Divine truth and of the beauty of marriage and family. To this end we received the gifts of the Holy Spirit especially in the sacrament of confirmation, This virtue has bestowed the faithful during two thousand years with the ability to prefer death rather than to betray the baptismal vows, to die rather than to sin, to die rather than to betray the wedding vows, to die rather than to betray the priestly or religious vows.
In his Encyclical on Marriage and Family, Pope Leo XIII spoke already in 1880: "The law of the Church was sometimes so divergent from the civil law that Ignatius the Martyr, (Polyc., 5), Justin (Apol., 1, 15), Athenagoras (Legat., 32, 33) and Tertullian (Coron, 13) publicly denounced as unjust and adulterous certain marriages which had been sanctioned by imperial law" (Arcanum Divinae, n. 21).
The family and the entire human society will flourish only on the condition when the Divine truth on Marriage and Family will be observed, as taught Pope Leo XIII: "From the beginning of the world, indeed, it was divinely ordained that things instituted by God and by nature should be proved by us to be the more profitable and salutary the more they remain unchanged in their full integrity. … If the rashness or the wickedness of human agency venture to change or disturb that order of things which has been constituted with fullest foresight, then the designs of infinite wisdom and usefulness begin either to be hurtful or cease to be profitable, partly because through the change undergone they have lost their power of benefiting, and partly because God chooses to inflict punishment on the pride and audacity of man. Now, those who deny that marriage is holy, and who relegate it, stripped of all holiness, among the class of common secular things, uproot thereby the foundations of nature, not only resisting the designs of Providence, but, so far as they can, destroying the order that God has ordained. No one, therefore, should wonder if from such insane and impious attempts there spring up a crop of evils pernicious in the highest degree both to the salvation of souls and to the safety of the commonwealth" (Arcanum Divinae, 25).
"The Romans of old are said to have shrunk with horror from the first example of divorce, but ere long all sense of decency was blunted in their soul; the meager restraint of passion died out, and the marriage vow was so often broken that what some writers have affirmed would seem to be true-namely, women used to reckon years not by the change of consuls, but of their husbands" (Arcanum Divinae, 30).
In order to remain faithful to the Divine Commandments there are in our days families, young people, priests and bishops who are for this reason often marginalized, ridiculed and persecuted by the dictatorial power of the neo-Marxist World gender ideology. There are however also families, young people, priests and bishops who are marginalized and ridiculed even in some ecclesiastical environments because of their fidelity to the integrity of the Catholic faith and of the Divine Worship according the tradition of our forefathers.
In order to remain faithful to their vocation the Catholic family must practice especially the daily common prayer. Pope Pius XII spoke to Newly Married Couples: «We beseech you, take it to heart to keep this beautiful tradition of Christian families: the common prayer in the evening. The family gathers at the end of each day to implore the Divine blessings and to honor the Immaculate Virgin through the praises of the Rosary for all who sleep under the same roof. The hard and inexorable exigencies of the modem life don't give you the leisure to dedicate some blessed moments of gratitude towards God, nor read, according to an ancient custom, a short biography of the Saint whom the Church proposes us as each day as a model and as a special protector. Strive to sanctify this even short moment dedicating it to God in order to praise Him and to present to Him your desires, your needs, your sufferings and your occupations. The center of your home must be the Crucified or the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: May Christ reigns over your home and gather you around Him every day» (Address to Newly Married Couples, 12th February 1941).
My dear brothers and sisters, the Catholic family has a vocation which is in our days sometimes forgotten. It is the vocation to be the first priestly seminary (cf. II Vatican Council, Optatam totius, n. 2). Pope Pius XII admonished Catholic parents with these words: "If some day God grants you the great honor of calling one of your children for this service, recognize the value and privilege entailed in so many graces that this call involves. ... You place the flower and fruit of your marriage on the altar, to live consecrated to the Lord and to souls. … Do not be afraid of the gift of the holy vocation that has come down from heaven to rest upon your children. If you believe, and if love has raised you to a new level, is it not a comfort and joy to see your own son at the altar clothed with the priestly vestments, offering the sacrifice of the Mass and praying for his mother and father? Is it not a great consolation, that makes a mother's heart beat with love for her daughter, to see her consecrated to Christ, serving him and loving him with all her being?" (Letter to Married Couples, March 25, 1942).
Dear fathers, dear mothers, dear grandfathers and grandmothers may you say: «0 Lord, if you want, call one of my sons, one of my grandsons to the priesthood». Young men and young women, you who are feeling in your soul the vocation the marriage and to found a domestic Church, you may also say: «0 Lord, if you want, call one of my future sons to the priesthood» And you boys and young men, some of you could say, perhaps today: «0 Lord, I am ready to follow you, if you want to call me to the priesthood».
What a beautiful vocation to be a true Catholic! What a beautiful vocation to fight for the integrity of the Faith and the Divine Commandments! What a beautiful vocation to be a Catholic family, a domestic Church! What a beautiful vocation to be a chaste young man and a chaste young woman! What a beautiful vocation to be a seminarian and a priest with a pure and ardent heart!
Don't be afraid of the Goliath of our days, which is the new anti-Christian World dictatorship. The gift of the fortitude of the Holy Spirit will make us capable to win the Goliath of our days with the five stones of the sling of David.
0 Holy Spirit let again flourish many domestic Churches, which will provide us with the five stones of David to win Goliath, that means: good fathers and mothers of family, pure children, pure young people, pure priests and intrepid bishops. Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!
Priestly ordination, 17th October 2015, Charles Town
Dear candidates for the priesthood, dear brothers and sisters in Christ!
Our Lord Jesus Christ granted us today the great grace to celebrate the sacrament of the holy priestly ordination. In this sacrament occurs a miracle of the Divine omnipotence and of the Divine love. Through the imposition of the hands of the bishop, the Holy Spirit descends in the souls of the candidates and impresses therein a power and a dignity, which surpasses all powers of this world and all human honors. This power and this dignity is the priesthood of Christ.
Jesus Christ, the incarnated God, is the unique and sole mediator between God and men. There is no other way of salvation. Through His sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus offered once an act of adoration, of thanksgiving, of expiation, of propitiation for the sins and of impetration with infinite value. There does not exist in the whole universe, in the whole history and even in the whole eternity an act which could more please and which could more honor the Triune God than the sacrifice of the Cross, And this act of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is the true and the unique priestly act in the full sense of the word.
The priesthood of Christ and His sacrifice on the Cross are so great that they will never cease. Jesus, the eternal High Priest, is always alive (cf. Hebr. 7, 25), and therefore His redeeming sacrifice is always alive, always present in all moments, in all generations, in all places: "The Lamb stands and is alive, yet immolated" (Apoc. 5, 6), The priesthood of Christ will never cease, it remains for all eternity, so great it is, for it belongs to a Person who is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity.
In His ineffable wisdom and in His immense merciful love Jesus wanted to share His unique and eternal priesthood with weak men. And so He instituted during the Last Supper the sacrament of the priestly ordination, when He as the true Melchisedek offered in the sacramental manner to God Father His body and His blood under the species of bread and wine (cf. Ps 109, 4). The whole life of a Catholic priest has therefore its meaning and its finality in the celebration of the sacrifice of Christ for the glorification of the Divine majesty and for the salvation of the world and of all souls.
Each baptized participates also in the priesthood of Christ, though in a general or common manner. Such general or common priesthood realizes itself principally in offering his own life, his own sufferings and petitions in spiritual union with the sacrifice, which the ordained priest as an "other Christ" (alter Christus) offers in the celebration of the Holy Mass. Even though they derive from the unique priesthood of Christ, both realizations of the priesthood of Christ differ from each 10). By the plan of God's wisdom, these two manners of the priesthood are connected with each other. The common priesthood finds one of its most noble realizations in the sacrament of marriage. The common priesthood was created by God in order to found and live the Christian family, the domestic Church (so spoke already Saint Augustine, cf. De Bono viduitatis and the II Vatican Council, Lumen gentium, 11). The family as domestic church is for its part the first Seminary, according to the teaching of the Magisterium (cf. Vatican II, Optatam totius, 2).
One of the most beautiful fruits, which a Christian family, a domestic church, can offer to God, consists in giving to Him a son as a priest. We can say that in a certain sense the common priesthood, the Christian family, was founded by God so that there Will be always a continuation of the ordained priesthood, so that there will be always in the Church and in the world true priests of Christ, so that there will be always an "other Christ" (alter Christus) who would daily offer the infinite redeeming sacrifice of Christ as a sweet smelling savor before the eyes of the Divine majesty for the delight of the whole heavenly court and for the salvation of the world.
Here we can recognize the more profound reason why the Catholic priest should not be married, but be virginal and celibate. The ordained and sacramental priesthood is celibate, it is like a fragrant virginal flower, which sprouted from the garden of the common priesthood, from the Christian family, and derived from the chaste conjugal love of the Christian parents. It happened many years ago: In the house of a deceased priest in Poland was found a little box with this inscription "To be opened after my death". The box was opened and there was a myrtle wreath with this note: "This is my mother's bridal wreath. I have carried it with me to various countries in memory of that sacred moment when my mother vowed not only fidelity but also uprightness at the altar of God. She has kept this vow. She had the courage to have me after the ninth child. Next to God, I owe her my life and my vocation to the priesthood. Place this wreath, my mother's bridal wreath, into my grave." We know also the following event from the life of pope Pius X: After his episcopal consecration the young bishop Giuseppe Sarto visited his old mother and showed her his episcopal ring: "Mother isn't this ring wonderful!". The mother held up the plain golden band on her own finger and said: "If I hadn't worn faithfully this my ring, you would never wear your ring".
Dear candidates to the priesthood, never forget it: you will be priests in order to offer daily the ineffable redeeming sacrifice of Christ, in order to be living instruments of the Eternal High Priest, so that through your voice and through your hands the redeeming graces of the sacrifice of Christ can flow upon this world, which is so deeply mired in sins. The interior disposition of your soul, of your heart, of your mind should more and more, day after day, correspond to the tremendous and Divine words which you will pronounce: "This is My Body". You belong totally and exclusively to Jesus the High Priest. You belong not more to yourself, nor to any creature.
All your love must be virginal, chaste, priestly, selfless, paternal; this means your love has to be in an eminent way pastoral, and this means: to care for souls, to save souls. For this purpose you have received the holy vocation, for this purpose you receive today the indelible mark of the priesthood of Christ, for this purpose your family offers you today to God as a beautiful flower of the garden of its domestic church.
May Our Lady, the Mother of the Eternal High Priest, guard you and your priesthood in Her Immaculate Heart and implore for you the grace that through your priesthood the Church may receive many new and saintly priestly vocations and many saintly Catholic families. 0 Immaculate Heart Mary, be our refuge, be our salvation. Amen.
[Kindly Provided by Mrs. Maike Hickson]
[Kindly Provided by Mrs. Maike Hickson]