Rorate Caeli

Accepting our littleness (a note to those who returned to tradition)

The following is a sermon from a traditional Catholic mission priest. Among many other things, it helps explain the decision we had to make with the comments function on Rorate, and why it took so much time to moderate and away from our families and personal lives:

“one of the soldiers opened His side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water.”
When studying the writings of the mystics (like those of Sr. Josefa Menendez) who received communications from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we find statements like “always remember that if I love you it is because you are little, not because you are good” (The Way of Divine Love, Newman Press, 1950, p. 51). We do not make ourselves good, but rather it is God loving us that makes us good. His love comes and casts out our defects, making us more and more loveable. He first loves us, says St. John, and then we can love Him. This is one of the ways we know we are in a state of grace…we can love God sincerely from our hearts!
To Sr. Josefa Menendez the Sacred Heart said: “I could make a saint of you without more ado, but what I ask of you is that you should never hold out against My Will. Do what I ask you to do. Let Me act, humble yourself, I will seek you out in your nothingness, and unite you to myself”. We must become and remain little for God to work with us! Again, “always remember that if I love you it is because you are little, not because you are good”
We often resist God because we do not feel worthy of such Love, Love itself, of such intimacy. When He comes near, we feel our wretchedness, our unworthiness. Many today have found their way back to the Church after some years of living a more or less prodigal life. What can be said of all those college years? Misspent youth? This is surely one of the principle motivations for many families striving anew to homeschool their children.
They do not want their children to do what they did. But many, who have found their way all the back to Tradition after such a life, can, at times be rather bitter, or have a certain angry streak in them, especially toward the Church, or, perhaps more precisely, Her leadership. It seems to me that one of the main reasons for this is simply they refuse to accept two things: (i) the Passion of the Church that His Majesty has allowed to happen and (ii) that they themselves had fallen so far into the mire when they should have known better. “I can’t believe I did that” sort of thinking…
As to the first, we know the Church is the spotless Bride of Christ, but right now She looks like Job of old… immobile, covered with wounds from head to foot, being attacked even by friends. Traditionally and historically, She has always had many fences and barriers around her to protect Her, things like scholastic theology and philosophy, the Latin Language and the ancient Liturgy, priestly celibacy, and many other things, all of which remind us of and lead us toward the Church Triumphant in heaven. But just as the devil was given permission to demolish the fences around Job to test him and teach us something of the mysteries of God, so now, in God’s mysterious way, the fences around the Church have been allowed to be knocked down, razed, one after the other. Consequently, the flooding revolutionary river that flows from the devil’s lying mouth (as described in the Apocalypse chapter 12) has been allowed to flood the City of God with its foul and fetid waters. As a result, there has been devastating losses in the priesthood and religious life, an apostasy of the faithful, and many confused teachings coming from Rome and various chanceries and many similar things.
Sadly, nearly everyone in the Church over the last half Century, clergy and faithful alike, has imbibed some of these waters and gone astray for at least a time. St. Pius X liked to say as the priest, so the people. As many priests left the priesthood… so many souls went astray with them. Some of those souls were our own and those of our parents and teachers. Why did God allow this? Why so much evil? Why so much suffering to His Church? Job asked questions like this.
Despite our straying like lost sheep, at some point, by the shear grace of God, we were called back or perhaps even preserved from falling with so many others. Yet this is where the pride of our fallen nature rises up and easily embitters our soul. We look back at all the carnage in our life and wonder what went wrong? Where did I go astray? Why did I make that dumb choice? Why me? What happened to my family? For those who have returned to Tradition, the finger inevitably points to the various leaders of the Church causing them to become embittered toward priests and bishops, in general, simply because they know that had the leaders of the Church remained on course, they too would have been faithful! As the priest, so the people. The fences of the Church would have protected Her and us too! Although I am not excusing those clerics and prelates who had some part to play in ushering in the current Passion of the Mystical Body of Christ, I am saying, such hard feeling, such finger pointing will not change what we did, will not produce peace of soul, will not help us become little so that God will come and make us good.
We must not forget Job…who was innocent and wondered why all these things were happening to him. He kept begging God to hear him… Finally God did answer…and Job was put to confusion. “Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said: Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? [What does this say about Blogs and Facebook?!] Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou me. Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding. … Wilt thou make void my judgment: and condemn me, that thou mayst be justified?… God never answered Job’s questions! Then Job answered the Lord, and said: What can I answer, who hath spoken inconsiderately? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. One thing I have spoken, which I wish I had not said: and another, to which I will add no more. [Be warned bloggers!] … I have spoken unwisely, and things that above measure exceeded my knowledge. [I have found this to be true of MANY bloggers…they are always exceeding their knowledge!] …
Therefore I reprehend myself, and do penance in dust and ashes.” Job was innocent…”In all these things Job did not sin with his lips.” We are not innocent! We have sinned and have fallen. How much more than Job do we need to be cautious about our anger for the Passion of the Church that His Majesty has allowed to take place at this time! We should lament the sufferings of the Church! Hate sin and its evil effects! But is it not true that many are really more angry at themselves for falling rather than at the plight of the Church? They refuse to accept their nothingness…their littleness!
It is much healthier and productive of peace to look at ourselves and say, I did that. I did not have to do that, but I did. No one forced me. I cannot blame the Church… I cannot blame my parents, husband, or wife. NO. I did that freely. LOOK HOW LITTLE I AM. Look at what I am capable of doing! Why, I am surprised I did not do much worse… sin even more and more and cause much more damage! … “for there is no evil of which I am not capable” (p. 37). Ah! Such a humble attitude lifts ones heart to God in thanksgiving for protecting them from themselves and worse evils. This is very pleasing to God. This humility impels God come to us and make us good! “Your misery attracts Me. What would you do without Me? Do not forget that the lowlier you become, the nearer I shall be to you” (p. 49). “A soul will profit even after the greatest sins, if she humbles herself. It is pride that provokes My Father’s wrath, and it is loathed by Him with infinite hatred” (p. 116).
We should look at ourselves and marvel that God has called us back and we are awake and alive at this time! How gracious is Our God. The Sacred Heart shows us how to respond to such a gift: sincere gratitude, a willingness to offer every act and trial for the Love of God and the salvation of souls, by making acts of reparation and humility, and to struggle with our faults and failings without giving up. Listen to the words of the Sacred Heart:
a. “all I ask of souls is their love, but they give Me only ingratitude; I should like to fill their souls with grace, but they pierce My Heart through and through…” (p. 51). …with pride! Combat pride by thanking God for preserving you from yourself an worse untold evils.
b. “Many souls think that love consists in saying: My God I love Thee. No, love is sweet, and ACTS because it loves, and all that it does is done out of love. I want you to love Me in that way, in work, in rest, in prayer and consolation as in distress and humiliation, constantly giving Me proofs of your love by acts; that is true love. If souls really understood this they would advance in perfection rapidly, and how greatly they would console My Heart” (p. 60).
c. “The soul that loves wants to suffer (sacrifice), for suffering (making sacrifices) increases love” (p. 78).
d. “Never does My Heart refuse to forgive a soul that humbles itself” (p. 101). “…never lose an occasion of humbling yourself” (p. 126). “love Me in your littleness; this will console Me” (p. 29).
e. The Sacred Heart was greatly pleased by Sr. Josefa kissing His hands and feet in reparation as well as kissing the ground and renewing her vows of religion. WE can do this too with our crucifix as well as renewing our baptismal vows all the while offering to God the Father… the Sacred Heart of Jesus… especially at Mass, saying something like: “Father, is not the Blood of Thy Son of sufficient value? What more dost Thou require? His Heart, His Wounds, His Precious Blood… He offers all for the salvation of souls” and the welfare of the Church (p. 122).
f. “My Heart exults in forgiving faults that are of pure frailty” (p. 176). “I do not ask you to free yourself from these faults, for I know it is not always in your power, but what I do ask of you is to keep up the struggle against your passions…” (p. 287).
Let us follow these admonitions, being grateful, humble, loving and willing to suffer… let us become little and completely dependent on His Majesty’s Sacred Heart… and He will make us good.