Rorate Caeli

“This is My Destiny” - Fantastic Sermon delivered during the Chartres Pilgrimage

This is my destiny

(Sermon for Pentecost Sunday given by Fr Augustin-Marie Aubry, Prior of the Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer, to the pilgrims walking to Chartres)



Come, O Holy Ghost, and send from heaven a ray of thy light

To enlighten our souls about our mysterious destiny


I have a question for all of you who are gathered before the altar, and for all of you who are following this Mass of Pentecost from a distancethis Mass of the pilgrimage of Chartres: dear pilgrims, do you know what your destiny is?


1. Our destiny

When we left Paris yesterday morning, we knew that our destination was Chartres CathedralAnd we knew that to reach this goal, we should have to walk, without getting lost or discouraged.  But our three days’ pilgrimage is an image of our life on earth.


The holy city

The goal of this journey is a cathedral: a cathedral made of stone, which represents the heavenly Jerusalem, that City which St John beheld, and which he describes in his Apocalypse:

I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: “Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and he will dwell with them. And they shall be his people; and God himself with them shall be their God.” (Ap 212-3).


That holy City is our life’s goal.  God dwells there with men.  What do the elect do in His presence?  They sing.  They sing a Sanctus, that is forever beginning anew; a Te Deum, along with all the heavenly court; a Magnificat, in union with our Lady, the Queen of Paradise.


Face to face

Now, what is the subject of their song?  They sing of the glory of God, which they possess at last, since they are now living in the light.  In heaven, faith and hope will disappear, and only charity will remain.  It inspires all that the blessed do and say.  God makes Himself known to them: We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3: 2). You will be able to look at the sun, and you will yourself be changed into the sun by its light. “We see now through a glass in a dark manner”, writes St Paul, “but then face to face” (1 Co 13: 12) This is your destiny: to be face to face with God.

St Therese of Lisieux, who is accompanying us on this day’s walk, once wrote a great poem about heaven. It summarises all her ideas, and it ends with these words:

I desire to be embraced by His love,

I want to see Him and join myself to Him forever,

That will be heaven for me… 

That is my destiny – to live by love!

(To live by love, 26th February, 1895)

Your destiny is to see God and be united to Him.


A dance with the angels

When the Dominican painter Fra Angelico wished to depict paradise, he showed those entering there being welcomed by angels. They all dance together in a delightful ring, a man, then an angel, then a man, then an angel.  Who wants to miss out on a celebration?  Who is so foolish as to arrive there late?  We must hurrywe must reach the festal chamber in time.



2. Our desire

You are on pilgrimage toward Chartres, but your destiny is heaven.  This, however, raises another question.  Is your desire worthy of your destiny?  Or do you perhaps say to yourselvesHeaven is too high for me! It’s too far away, and too hard to reach.  Heaven is for great saints, not for an average believer like me.”

If you do say that, you are wrong.


The dignity of a Christian

Your desires must be based on two things, what you are and what you wish for.  Let me speak first of what you are.

You were created by God.  He made you to His image and likeness, and you are the fruit of His wisdom and goodness.

You have an immortal soul; you are made for eternity, andfashioned for glory.

Christian, remember thy dignity!


Now, secondly, what do you wish for?  Enter into yourself, and think as follows: “The saints of paradise were not made of some different material from myself.  If they were able to realise their destiny, why shouldn’t I?”


Our desires have to be trained, as we train an animal.  That way, they gradually grow in strength and in breadth, until finally we will have the same capacity as all the saints have enjoyed.  As St Therese puts it: “To work with love means to work with fervour; a loving heart runs forward, or rather, it flies.  Nothing is too hard for it, and nothing can stop it.”  Such is the greatness and strength of desire, when it is open to God’s grace.


The perversion of desire

Yet you also have within yourself, unfortunately, a power to make God’s intentions for you void.  The Church, following Christ, has always taught that the state of our souls in eternity will depend on how we act in this life.  Let me quote from what is called the Athanasian Creed, which is a witness to the faith of the early centuries of the Church, especially in Christian Gaul:

Those who have done well will go into eternal life, but those who have done evil into the eternal fire.  This is the Catholic faith, and whoever does not keep it firmly and faithfully cannot be saved.


You have been created free, and so you can betray the love of God.  If you sin, you trample upon a mystery; you make desire vain, and drive out the Holy Spirit whom you received at baptism.  By sins of injustice or impurity or impiety, you would distort God’s image within you.  If your desires are fixed on creatures, your destiny will be to live without your Creator – not to see God, never to reach your true goal…


Pilgrims of Chartrestake heart!  Renew God’s image within yourself, and be worthy of your destination.  Are you afraid because of your past life, with its many, ugly sins?  Yet sin is grist for God’s mercy!  Let it be today that you will change your life, by purifying your desires.  Look no longer at creatures, but at their Creator.


We have come together to walk because we know that road that lies before us: it is the road that leads from sin to grace, from lukewarmness to fervour, from a merely average life to holiness.  And the important question is not: “How many are there of us walking to Chartres?  Rather, it isHow many of us will have changed our lives by the time we get there?




Spirit of Pentecost

Fellow pilgrims and friends: may this Pentecost be for you all the occasion of a fervent confession.  May contrition stir up once more within you a desire for God: the desire to see His face and to reach your destiny. 

May you hear God calling you, this Pentecost, into His service.  We need apostles who will enkindle everywhere the desire for God.  


And so, to this vast assembly, walking behind the Cross in the footsteps of saints and accompanied by angels, I say this: if you stay faithful to your vocation, which is to praise God, then your path on earth will be a path to heaven, and the time of faith will yield place to the vision of the Trinity whom we adore.  For our true homeland is eternity.