Feb 2023 - Raise Your Heads
February 2, 2023.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Witness par excellence of God the Father, always acts with great gentleness. A physician of souls, He treats them with infinite goodness to lead them to salvation, while in the world and now from Heaven. Never a sharp word comes out of His Heart. Our Lord has never and will never be harsh towards a suffering soul.
Thus, we would not have expected to hear from the Savior’s lips expressions of a harshness seemingly contrasting with the gentleness and equanimity of soul that He kept even in the supreme commotion of His Passion.
When Our Lord speaks to us of the cross, of sacrifice, of renunciation, of penance, His words are absolute and addressed to all – unconditionally. Defending His Father’s honor and showing the way for those who want to follow Him demands this directness. His words cut like a knife: “If you do not do penance, you will all perish.” The words are simple, the thought without embellishment, the essence is communicated. His message is absolutely radical.
And we no longer hear it.
We are dazzled by the spirit of pleasure-seeking that now reigns everywhere. We are immersed, without even noticing it, in a superficial world where only success and its effects of comfort and luxury have a legitimate place.
And thus the teaching of Our Lord remains a dead letter – the same teaching reiterated by the repeated and maternal appeals of Our Lady who, in each of her appearances on earth, calls us to embrace a life of sacrifices.
As we grasp the undeniable truth of Christ’s words, we are forced to wonder at and lament the present state of the Church and the world. Have we not understood? We perish because we no longer do penance.
Are we so profoundly dazed that we have become unable to establish the link between cause and effect? When will we wake up from our spiritual lethargy? Our Lord’s teaching is not only the solemn warning of the Redeemer, but, in the same breath, it offers us the remedy.
Time to wake up.
The Church, in her motherly love for our souls, established the sacred time of Lent for us to enter into this movement of conversion that must lead us to Calvary. There, meditating on the Passion of Our Lord, we will be able to measure our crimes and God’s infinite mercy for our poor sinful souls, and we will enter into this movement of God’s love that necessarily passes through the cross.
What is this cross, in concrete terms?
Our Lady answered at Fatima. The penance that God asks is that of our duty of state. It is not a matter of undertaking the penances of the old days, when men still possessed a vigor that we lack, but of faithfully offering our daily duty in a spirit of sacrifice.
It does not seem to be so important, but it is.
The duty of state is the most tangible expression of God’s will for us. And this divine will can only be a will of love, since God is Love and He is one with His will. To be faithful to the daily duty of state, in the spirit of sacrifice, is the most accomplished form of penance. The spirit of sacrifice is the spirit of love: a sacrifice is only real when it is carried out by love. If love is lacking, sacrifice becomes a burdensome struggle, a secret search for proud satisfaction, an intolerable and sterile torture. Sacrifice is love that is expressed in total forgetfulness of self.
The faithful and repeated offering of the duty of state is, fundamentally, an act of practical worship of God’s will; it is our own proclamation that God alone is enough.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus, whose one hundred and fiftieth anniversary we celebrate this year, understood this. She never willingly refused God a small sacrifice. At her school, our souls will be revived by the grace of fidelity to the duty of state.
In Christo Sacerdote et Maria,
Fr. Yves le Roux