Rorate Caeli

Fontgombault Sermon - All Saints & All Souls: “Calm, trust, courage.”

Our Lady of Pellevoisin

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
(Fontgombault, November 1st, 2018)

Gaudete et exsultate.
Be glad and rejoice.
(Mt 5:12)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

The fascinating sight of a great throng is warming up our hearts on this morning of the feast of All Saints. Our eyes keep gazing towards heaven as the author of the Apocalypse unveils his magnificent vision. First, the hundred and forty-four thousand chosen ones, coming from the twelve tribes of Israel, then “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” They stand before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and holding palms in their hands. They are those who, according to the words of one of the elders, “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Ap 7:14)

This multitude doesn’t remain idle, but they sing: “Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb.” The angels also take part in this heavenly liturgy, proclaiming: Benediction and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, honour and power and strength, to our God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This vision is not the evocation of a faraway past, nor of an unclear future, it is the present time of eternity. At this very moment, development. Do not be afraid! Christ knows “what is in man” (Lk 19:9-10). And He alone knows it. These words were meant for the world; they are still personally meant for each of us. There are many doors in the heart of man. Some of them, we may hope, are open… yet, there may be doors which are more or less closed, or even padlocked. God is awaiting behind those doors, too. How long will He have to wait until we welcome His life, the life of eternity?

But the messenger of divine consolation may not limit his action to his earthly brothers and sisters. In the mind of the faithful, the feast of All Saints is closely linked to the commemoration of all the departed faithful that the Church will keep tomorrow. What a contrast between today’s feast, the archetypal day of the living, and the memory of our departed ones! On the one hand, eternal life and joy; on the other hand, the visit of graveyards, where tombs remind us of the presence of a beloved one, whose last remains are laying under a few feet of earth, and who is no more.

Such is not the Church’s thought. All Souls’ day is also the day of the living, of those who, unlike the Saints, aren’t yet fully living, but are in need of our prayer and intercession to reach beatitude. At the end of its earthly life, when the soul is called before God, takes place the particular judgment, which weighs its life with the measure of charity. Judgment is concluded by the birth to a new life, taking place either in paradise, in purgatory, or in hell. Only the souls in purgatory expect our intercession.

The feast of All Saints and All Souls’ Day place us before the prospect of our own death. Faced with this future, which might disturb and worry us, we may fruitfully remind the three words given by the Blessed Virgin to Estelle Faguette, when she appeared in Pellevoisin: “Calm, trust, courage.” Let’s be convinced in faith that the moment of our own death, even though it will always be fearsome insofar as it will settle our own eternal destiny, and will be the time when the devil will try his ultimate temptations, remains on God’s part the time of the supreme act of His fatherhood and mercy. Let us prepare this moment with the humble abandonment of those who can present themselves only as paupers. 

Self-giving and charity, ceaselessly practised, are the best of preparations. Christ has borne this witness: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” There is no greater proof of love than to abandon to God from this very moment our bodies and souls, so as to carry out the works He loves, those of the Beatitudes, as we await to abandon ourselves into His hands at the hour of our death.

Let us entrust our life, our death, our dead, too, to her who always is our Mother, and who takes care of her children, now, and most especially “at the hour of our death.” May she secure for us “calm, trust, courage.” May all the Saints whom we celebrate on this day intercede for us.