Rorate Caeli

Fontgombault Sermon - Feast of the Rosary: "Surround the Synod with the Beads of the Rosary" "We can't give up the Gospel truth on the family"


Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
(Fontgombault, October 7, 2015)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

The Feast of the Most Holy Rosary assumes a special importance this year. Last Sunday, in Rome, the XIVth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was opened; it is dedicated to the family, on the theme “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World”.

Mary invites us to surround this Assembly with the beads of our daily rosaries, so that God’s will on the family should be sought by all, discerned, and offered with mercy to today’s world. The world expects from the Church the Good News of the Gospel. Should we give up the whole truth on the family that Popes Paul VI and John Paul II taught in such a crystal clear way, then we would lose enthusiasm for mission, we would have to resign ourselves to be defeated by the spirit of the world, which claims to conquer, yet has nothing new to offer.

Whereas dissenting voices can be heard amidst the Fathers of the Synod, the imminent canonisation of the Martin spouses is a sign of hope. May the Holy Spirit enlighten the mind of the family’s true advocates. The young African and Asian Churches live with the fervour of evangelisation.

Let us learn from them to regain our pristine fervour.

Les us ask for the Fathers of the Synod the grace of humility before the truth that comes from God.

On this feast day of the Most Holy Rosary, it might be well worth quoting these words of the holy Curé d’Ars:

Humility is to virtues what the chain is to a rosary: if you remove the chain, all the beads are scattered; if you remove humility, all the virtues dissipate.

During these days, so as to make our union with the Synod’s Fathers more concrete, we might single out some mysteries in the Rosary that might be considered as pertaining more especially to the family.

The joyful mysteries, which revolve around Mary and the Holy Family, naturally take place in this category. As we meditate the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Visitation, the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Presentation at the Temple, and the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, everyone can conclude that God is present in each human family.

If Mary, through her Yes, conceives in her womb her Son Jesus under the shadow of the Holy Spirit, every conception is also a great Yes to the divine operation, it is the occasion of a joint work between God and the parents, who are but procreators.

The Visitation invites us to consider the practice of charity and mutual support in families. So many stories would best be forgotten…

The Nativity reminds us of the simplicity of a human family: a man, a woman, and a child; and it invites us to marvel before the child, who is the fruit and the materialization of love.

All this ends up in thanksgivings with the Presentation at the Temple. Last, every family should remember, through the mysterious Finding in the Temple, that it doesn’t live by itself and for itself, but that it is God Who gives it life, and towards Whom its members walk along.

The family, when conceived according to God’s design, offers a vision of light. It is open to life, it is a place of charity and mercy. Severed from God, it loses its orientation and meaning. The child becomes irrelevant, whereas the mutual gift of spouses is merely a quest for personal comfort. The heat in the hearth dies down. Mankind dies out.

Beside joyful mysteries, the glorious mysteries, which are heavenly mysteries, describe another family, that of God. The communion of the Trinity is indeed offered to our meditation through the Persons of the Word (Resurrection), the Father (Ascension: “I ascend unto my Father”), and the Holy Spirit (Pentecost): one God in three Persons. From all eternity, the Father begets the Son, Who is God. The Holy Spirit, Who is also God, proceeds from the Father and the Son. In the bosom of God, we encounter the fecundity of love and the radicalism of gift.

In the last two glorious mysteries, Assumption and Coronation in Heaven, Mary joins this communion, with all the chosen of all times, so that she may be crowned in their midst.
May the holy Rosary be our constant companion during our lives. Each bead that slips through our fingers takes place on the chain that binds us to Heaven. Someday, it will become complete; God will then pull its end, and Mary will acknowledge us as her children.