February 2005 - The Law of Happiness

"Enjoy yourself," the world is forever telling us. "Enjoy yourself and do not be ashamed. Pleasure will make you happy."

How difficult it is to resist such an invitation! We naturally desire happiness, but we are usually under the insidious influence of the modern confusion between pleasure and happiness, and thus, we are only too ready to listen to those voices that invite us in such an insistent manner to savor all the fruits of pleasure. In reality, this constant solicitation is a dreadful trap.

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

"Enjoy yourself," the world is forever telling us. "Enjoy yourself and do not be ashamed. Pleasure will make you happy."

How difficult it is to resist such an invitation! We naturally desire happiness, but we are usually under the insidious influence of the modern confusion between pleasure and happiness, and thus, we are only too ready to listen to those voices that invite us in such an insistent manner to savor all the fruits of pleasure. In reality, this constant solicitation is a dreadful trap.

Pleasure cannot be an end in itself. It is nothing more than a means, proper to our sensitive nature, that pushes us forward to seek out the only true and satisfying happiness. Pleasure plays an important role in our lives by spurring on our senses. But if we take it as our end, we become enslaved to our insatiable appetites, submitting to the dictates of a pleasure that reduces love to a fleeting excitation of the senses. Such a bizarre notion of love is, in fact, nothing more than a degradation or – more exactly – a profanation of love.

Man, endowed with intelligence and free will, is able – thanks be to God! – to know and desire realities of a higher order, necessarily external, which force him to step out of himself. If man seeks to attain these higher realities, he will realize the happiness of forgetting himself and of giving himself to others. This gift of self implicitly contains the supreme sacrifice of one's own life: "There is no greater love than to give one's life for those we love. "

Our ultimate happiness consists in the union of our wills with the will of God. But experience daily proves to us that it is not easy to submit to God's will. The consequences of Original Sin and of our own sins are like so many barriers between God and us. Our intelligence, thus confusion does not clearly perceive where the true good lies. Our will, weakened by our repeated sins, draws back and only with difficulty consents to the total gift of itself.

Only self-renunciation can heal this illness of the will. By its painful but indispensable exercise, renunciation strengthens our will by bringing it into subjection, teaching it not to seek itself, but to give itself away. Self-renunciation teaches our will not to make itself its own end, but to be consecrated to the achievement of a higher good that ennobles it. Because we are sinners, self-renunciation is the necessary prerequisite for our development. It is the supreme law of happiness.

Without its daily exercise, we cannot keep our balance, because the law of sin is a law of instability and we have submitted to it. Without such exercise, it will not take long for us to incline towards base things and fall again into that hellish downward spiral of enjoyment, vainly trying to compensate for our lack of happiness by the quantity of our pleasures.

Self-renunciation, to be efficacious, must be concrete. In spite of the vain pretexts of our proud but cowardly nature, we must learn to cheerfully perform some voluntary penances.

Our wounded nature demands them, because if we do not learn to control our desires, we will quickly slide down towards the vulgar appetites that lead us away from true happiness.

In this season of Lent, let us ask Our Lady for the grace to understand the importance of self-renunciation, in order that our wills might learn to submit themselves totally to the will of Her Son. Thus, we will learn to love Him above all things, with a love of predilection, a love not afraid of sacrificing some temporal goods in order to hasten freely to the conquest of the Eternal Good. Above all, we will learn to renounce ourselves because of His Love.

In Christo Sacerdote et Maria,

Fr. Yves le Roux

NEWS FROM THE SEMINARY

• February 2, the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady and the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, was the date chosen by Archbishop Lefebvre for the reception of the cassock and the clerical tonsure in seminaries of his Society of St. Pius X. This year, Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais visited us that day to confer the tonsure in a Pontifical High Mass. Twelve seminarians received the cassock, while sixteen (fourteen for the SSPX and two for the Benedictines in Silver City, NM) – one of the largest classes of "tonsurandi" in St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary's 32 year history – were made clerics.
    Bishop Tissier drew from the wisdom of Archbishop Lefebvre in his sermon. The Archbishop, as Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, wrote a pastoral letter in 1963 on the subject of clerical attire. Bishop Tissier noted the three advantages of wearing the cassock, rather than any other attire, even clerical, that the Archbishop spoke of in this letter: separation, protection, and example or "witnessing." If a cleric is to follow the admonition of Our Lord to go to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel, he must be separated from the rest of men for this special work. The cassock sets him apart from others, indicating clearly to all his special role in society.
    Secondly, the cassock protects a cleric from the dangers of the world. It reminds him and others of what he is about, and helps him carry himself always and everywhere as a man of God. Lastly and most importantly, the wearing of the cassock provides a witness of the Social Kingship and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It speaks of God to a world that has rejected Him and tried to forget Him. It encourages those who might need a priest to approach and ask for spiritual aid. Thus, now more than ever, young clerics must take up the cassock and wear it faithfully. They must wear it with both pride and humility, said Bishop Tissier: proud to be a cleric, chosen by Our Lord, but humble in realizing that they are utterly unworthy of this honor.

• "Verbum," the Seminary's seasonal newsletter, will now be appearing three times a year – March, July, November – in order to give the seminarians who publish it more time to study and fulfill their duties.