Rorate Caeli

Fontgombault Sermon for Palm Sunday: The Temptation to Despair is Great

Palm Sunday

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Father Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
Fontgombault, March 24, 2024

Faciem tuam, Domine, requiram.

Thy face, O Lord, do I seek.

(Ps 26 [27]:8)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

My dearly beloved Sons,

On Palm Sunday, let us enter into the heart of the liturgical year. Let us live once again the days, the hours in which the mystery of our redemption has been carried out, through Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. It is an opportunity to renew our presence during our communions, which are so frequent, and yet so often too material, to Christ’s redeeming Body and Blood.

More than ever, the world and men need to draw from this mystery of mercy and reconciliation. Yet, more than ever, the world and men seem to emancipate themselves from God, from His laws and His plan of salvation. Is it still worthwhile talking to a society that congratulates itself on having been able to enshrine in the marble of its Constitution the deliberate murder of the innocent child still inside the protective and nurturing precinct of the maternal womb, a society that considers this as a huge step towards freedom?

Which freedom? The temptation to despair is great: to despair of man, to despair of the world, to despair of God. Let us remember the parable of the unjust judge, who finally granted justice to the widow that kept pestering him (cf. Lk 18:1–8). The Lord intends to incite His disciples to pray and not lose heart. His conclusion is categorical: “But yet the Son of man, when He cometh, shall He find, think you, faith on earth?” (v. 8).

For the Lord, the point is not to invite us to judge the faith of our contemporaries, and to wail: Do they believe in God? Do they believe the dogmas of the faith? That’s not the question. Anyway, the question is not directed to them. It is directed to the disciples. It is directed to each of us. Will the Lord, when He comes, find faith in our own hearts?

But what does the Lord ask us? We believe in God. That’s true, but that’s not enough. We have to believe in Christ God and man, creator and redeemer; redeemer, not according to the way we would have chosen... but according to the way He has freely chosen: to give His own life for His friends through a humiliating and degrading execution on a cross.

After the Lord had just evoked His coming passion, did Peter have faith when he took Jesus apart and with sharp rebukes told Him: “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” (Mt 16:22) And yet, it happened...

As torrents of hatred were rushing at the Innocent One, the mystery of our reconciliation was being carried out. The times in which we are living give rise to questions and worries, they are a sore trial for our faith. Let us believe this: throughout these times, our times, the mystery of our reconciliation keeps being carried out. God holds all things in His hand. No event whatsoever can take Him unawares. His mercy always remain equally fruitful, if a righteous man, turning his eyes towards the Crucified One, receives in himself the features of His face, and like Him, offers his own life for his friends, as a witness of the Crucified One.

At the height of hatred, the peak of the Golgotha is the peak of love and hope. There, Christ invites us to continue His work in the world: “Come, and follow Me.” No Good Friday without an Easter morning.