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Next to the Holy Mass, the Divine Office (or Breviary) is the most important prayer offered to God.  It is offered by the Church and in the name of the Church, conferring multifold graces and blessings on those who recite it worthily, attentively and devoutly.  Normally the domain of priests and religious, the Church has continued to recommend her official prayer to the faithful.  However, until now, the complexity of the rubrics and a lack of suitable translations has deterred many.

 

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  16th Sunday after Pentecost

September 13, 2015

Know Your Place

The author Charles Dickens has given the world a large number of memorable characters. One of the most instantly recognizable—and dislikeable—personalities is the character Uriah Heep. This loathsome figure from the novel David Copperfield is the epitome of greed, avarice and ambition, but he hides these vices behind a cloak of affected humility, or “‘umbleness” as he calls it. He continually diverts our attention to his own ‘umbleness, in an attempt to distract us from his real agenda which is to gain control over his master’s fortune.

Uriah Heep has become synonymous with false humility, and this Sunday’s Gospel gives us the opportunity to examine this unpleasant pitfall in the spiritual life.

In his parable of the wedding feast Christ provides us with the key to knowing the difference between pride and humility. You’ll find this key in the words “Whosoever exalteth himself shall be humbled.” To be even more specific, the key word is “himself”. If someone else exalts you, that’s okay. But if you exalt yourself it isn’t. In other words, there are times in our life when we are called upon to receive honors, or accolades of praise, and there is nothing wrong with (humbly) accepting them. But if we exalt ourselves in the process, by letting the praise and honor go to our head, this is when we are in danger of falling into the sin of pride. Or if we seek the honor for its own sake, again we are exalting ourselves and guilty of pride.

Let me give you two examples. The first one is an example of a man who was deathly afraid of the honors being given him, knowing full well the terrible responsibility that came with those honors. His name was Giuseppe Sarto, and he was the Patriarch of Venice. When Pope Leo XIII died in 1903, Cardinal Sarto was summoned to Rome along with all the other cardinals of the Church, there to elect a successor to the Pope. The Breviary tells us that “When the votes of the College of Cardinals began to increase in his favour, he tried in vain with supplications and tears to be relieved of so heavy a burden.” He was elected nonetheless, but could not bring himself to accept the papacy at first, withdrawing to pray in anguish, like Our Lord in Gethsemane, that this chalice may be taken from him. Finally, the other cardinals persuaded him that his election was the will of God, and he “ceded to their persuasions, saying I accept the cross. Thus he accepted the crown of the supreme pontificate as a cross, offering himself to God, with a resigned but stedfast spirit.” These words I have just read are taken from the lessons of Matins on his feastday. And yes, this humble cardinal does have a feastday, because he went on to become not only a great pope, but a great saint. He took the name of Pope Pius X, and defended the Church against the modernism that was already attacking her at the beginning of the 20th century. The Breviary goes on to describe his papacy in these terms: “Placed upon the chair of Peter, he gave up nothing of his former way of life. He shone especially in humility, simplicity and poverty, so that he was able to write in his last testament: I was born in poverty, I lived in poverty, and I wish to die in poverty. His humility, however, nourished his soul with strength, when it concerned the glory of God, the liberty of Holy Church, and the salvation of souls.” Did St. Pius X refuse the trappings of the papacy, the tiara, the sedia gestatoria, the solemn Masses and so on? No, he accepted them all with humility, recognizing that it is the high and exalted office that he holds which is being honored, not his own person. Try and imagine what a truly humbling experience it must be for someone who realizes his own real worth in comparison to God, to be carried around with all the pomp and ritual of a solemn papal ceremony.

A hundred years later, the modernist onslaught against the Church that St. Pius X had fought so hard to repel had finally succeeded in taking over the Church’s hierarchy and institutions. The latest man claiming to represent Christ on earth, Jorge Bergoglio, will be making a visit to our country later this month, and we will have the opportunity to compare his brand of humility with that of his saintly predecessor, St. Pius X. After all, the world today links Pope Francis with the word “humility” just as instinctively as it associates Hilary Clinton with the word “liar”. But is his humility real, or merely a masquerade?

After coming in as runner-up in the papal election that brought us Benedict XVI, Bergoglio seemed to be carefully positioning himself for the top job in the Church, his ambition transparent as it was inappropriate. On being elected, he instantly made headlines by doing away with one papal tradition after another. Stepping out on to the balcony of St. Peter’s after his election he refused, for example, to stand on the elevated platform reserved for him, saying “I’ll stay down here.” Not a big thing perhaps, but indicative of his long-thought-out agenda of lowering the respect due to the office of pope. Naturally this kind of thing endeared him to the crowds, who quickly become blissfully convinced of his humility as he returns to his hotel to pay his own bill, as he drives around the Vatican in his Ford Focus, refusing the red papal shoes, and moving out of the papal apartments because they are too good for him, a poor ‘umble man.

Faced with a barrage of public relations propaganda from Rome and the media, we might even be tempted at times to believe this constant spectacle of unbridled “humility”. However, I can assure you it is a sham. When a man insists on his own agenda rather than the advancement of God’s kingdom, this man cannot possibly be truly humble. It is a sign of pride and false humility, when a man believes his plan is better than God’s. God has spent two thousand years protecting his Church from harm, building up the supreme office of the papacy so that it was held in reverence throughout the world. People genuflected when a pope walked into the room, because he was the Vicar of Christ on earth. Bergoglio arrogantly refuses that role, and so cannot abide to have people fuss over him, making the childish mistake that it really is “him” they are fussing over, and not the God he is supposed to be representing.

Of course, all these trappings are essentially neither here nor there. They are just trappings. More regrettably, however, Francis’ contempt for his own office goes beyond getting rid of superficialities like red shoes and ostrich feathers. These well publicized distractions are pale reflections of his true agenda. His ultimate goal is the complete democratization of the Church and the replacement of the papal monarchy with the more collegiate idea that the pope is merely the first among equals. He fully intends to ensure that the powers of the pope are abolished so that he can herald in a new era for the Church in which the masonic ideal of “Equality” reigns supreme, but not from the throne of Peter!

His publications on global warming and constant ranting against the evils of capitalism, his attacks on the true Mass, his promotion of globalism, Marxism, and religious indifferentism, his ban on proselytizing and refusal to allow non-Catholics to convert, his subtle but gnawing assault on Catholic notions of family, hierarchy, objective truth, and their replacement with the Masonic ideals of liberty and equality, all these are self-evident examples of his defiance of what the Church has always taught. For any man to set himself up against two thousand years of tradition in this way would be unacceptable, but for the man who has been elected supposedly for the sole purpose of preserving these traditions, it is incredible. It is the open defiance of God’s revelation and the Church’s teachings. It is the arrogance of a man who refuses to submit to a higher authority than his own. And it is anything but humble.

We must await the intervention of God to tell this man who sits at the highest place in the Church today to move aside and make way for a more honorable man. Until then, we are doomed to watch in silent horror as Pope Francis steps on to the shores of America to the applause of the multitude, and promotes his own personal and completely anti-Catholic agenda with one carefully crafted photo-op after another. Meanwhile the crowd gasps in awe at the “humility” of this man, easily swayed after decades of doctrinal emptiness from Rome, backed up by the completely liberal bias of the media. It is all very frustrating, I know, but that intervention from God will surely come one day, as Christ himself promised that he would not abandon his Church. This is why the Guild of St. Peter ad Vincula asks all its members, priests and oblates, to recite daily the Prayer for the Restoration of the Church, that God may commit the government of that Church once more unto a worthy Vicar of his Son. When you witness the latest prideful offence against God by Pope Francis, say this prayer for the Church. You’ll have plenty of opportunities I’m sure.

We must remember that prayer and our own humility are our only weapons in this latest war waged by the devil against God and his Church. The devil’s henchman may wear a white cassock these days, but it is the same Lucifer who imagines that he can do things better than God, that his beliefs are superior to those taught by the Church for two thousand years. The same Lucifer who beheld the universe God had created and the redemption he had planned, and, instead of accepting his own role in this plan uttered the fateful words Non serviam—“I will not serve.” Let our battle cry be that of St. Michael, “Who is like unto God,” and let us be very aware in that battle, that just as Pope Francis is certainly not like unto God, neither are we. We are nothing more than sinful creatures who have been granted the grace to remain faithful to God’s truth. And without God’s help in the form of the Blessed Sacrament, we too would be as far from that truth as those poor brethren of ours in the conciliar Church who have been deprived of the graces that come from the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Know your place then. Let us take up our calling to be Christ’s warriors, with no thought of exalting ourselves, no silly notions that our efforts make us heroes, let alone saints. Instead let us simply and humbly continue to work for our holy religion as best we can and according to our own state of life. This is the foundation on which our Guild of St. Peter ad Vincula has been founded, and once again I invite you to join our efforts by becoming an oblate. Because we do have to acknowledge what our place is: for some reason known only to God, we have been chosen, certainly for no merits of our own, to carry the torch of the faith through these difficult times. With the same reluctance shown by St. Pius X, we need to accept our role as a cross, showing true humility by submitting to the divine will and playing our part in this terrible battle being waged against our God.



 Sermons from the Chaplain