April 2019 - District Superior's Letter
The Sign of the Cross
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
Let's start this letter with a little bit of philosophy, to better understand what is happening in Quebec. A sign is something that leads to the knowledge of something else. Smoke, for example, is a sign of fire, a road sign tells us of the road ahead. The sign can be considered in its material aspect - e.g. a wooden panel painted red; a silk flag - or in its formal aspect, that is to say, as meaning something - e.g. a stop; a specific country. Finally, the same sign can mean several things. Red color, for example, can mean charity, martyrdom, or communism ... Now let's apply that to our story.
In 1534, Jacques Cartier planted a cross at Gaspé, at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, to try to make the natives understand that "in the Cross was our salvation".
In 1643, a wooden cross was erected by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, founder of the colony of Ville-Marie, to fulfill a vow he had made to the Blessed Virgin after praying for the cessation of a devastating flood.
In 1937, again in Montreal, a crucifix was installed in the municipal City Hall. "By this gesture," Archbishop Lépine, of Montreal, said timidly in recent days, "the elected officials of the time expressed the recognition of our history and our roots. (...)"
He continued: "We learn today (March 20, 2019) that the crucifix that adorns the walls of the City Hall will be removed and transferred to an adjoining museum. This decision belongs to elected officials who represent the will of Montrealers who are all full citizens of our society. From the point of view of the transmission of the values of spiritual life, of living together and of solidarity, the crucifix always has its meaning in that it expresses and summarizes what animates the Montreal population, since the foundation of our city and constitutes a legacy of which we can all be proud."
Unfortunately, the Archbishop of Montreal no longer remembers the formal meaning of the sign of the Cross, nor the intention of the founders of his city. He only sees its material aspect, a sign that "expresses and summarizes what animates the Montreal population" today. His Grace, however, is well aware of the more than fifty empty churches, for sale, or converted into condominium, of his archdiocese. Not to mention the convents ... These days, again, the Sisters Hospitalers of St. Joseph, founded by Jérôme de la Dauversière, and arrived in Ville-Marie in 1659, have just left their Hotel-Dieu after 360 years of service ... No , the Montreal population of 2019 is not animated by the cross as the founders were.
Historical documents clearly proclaim it: the true motives of the founders of Ville-Marie are undoubtedly religious and devoid of any material interest. These motives are summarized as follows: first and foremost, the glory of God, then the conversion and sedentarization of the Indians, all supported by almsgivings and prayer. Faith, hope and a great concern for charity are the dominant virtues that have supported the efforts and commitment of the founders of Ville-Marie.
The sign of the cross disturbs from the year 33 until today. St Paul was already saying, "We are preaching a crucified Christ, a scandal for the Jews and a folly for the Gentiles" (I Cor 1:23)
The enemies of our holy religion sometimes know it better than many of its members, and especially the meaning of our religious symbols. A radio host, S. Durocher (S.D.), aggressive and faithless, understood very well, much better than the archbishop, the meaning of a crucifix either at the City Hall or even higher up at the National Assembly. She expressed it in a debate with Mayor Jean Tremblay (J.T.) on March 21st. It is sad to see how much we have gone down in our once so Catholic province. Here are some passages from this interview:
S.D.: "The crucifix that is in the National Assembly (in Quebec) was put there by Maurice Duplessis to remind the elected officials of the alliance between the Catholic Church and the State. So, it was the symbol of that, and it was to remind the elect that the law of God was more important than the law of men. (Many today) consider it nonsense since we do not want to remind the elect that the law of God is more important than the law of men. You, Mr. Tremblay, do you find that the law of God is more important than the law of men? "
J.T .: "For sure, come on! "
S.D .: "Excuse me? Sorry? The law of God more important than the law that is voted democratically in the National Assembly in Quebec? "
J.T .: "One must be really proud to ask such a question. It is to say that men are stronger than God!"
S.D .: "Are you telling me that God is more important than men? That the law of God is more important than a law voted democratically? "
J.T .: "For sure! "
That is where we have come since the quiet revolution: the world upside down. It only remains for them to proclaim themselves gods, like the emperors of old, to set up statues and to demand, under penalty of death, to be adored by all their slaves.
And what do our bishops say during all this? We are really reliving the Passion: when Our Lord was arrested, beaten up, spat on, flogged, crucified; his Apostles, except St John, were all absent, silent. The Church, who is living her Passion right now, is seeing the same thing today with the bishops, they are as if absent, and especially very silent.
Let us pray, however, that like the Apostles, whose successors they are, they too wake up, come back to defend faith in Our Lord and, with the strength of the Holy Ghost, proclaim "in season and out of season" that "there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts IV:12). For, “He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:8-11) "By this sign thou shalt conquer!"
- We are delighted to welcome back, in this very month of April, Father Arnaud Rostand, former Canadian superior (2006-2008), who is returning as district secretary, in residence in Saint-Césaire.
- Alexandre Lambert, of Lévis, received the sub-diaconate at the Saint-Pius X seminary in Écône, Switzerland, on Saturday, April 6th.
Yours, in this time of the Passion and the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fr. Daniel Couture