February 2008 - District Superior's Letter
During this lent, let us take up the Cross. The christian life is a life of sacrifice. The spirit of the Cross is opposed to the spirit of the world which shuns sacrifice and mortification in favor of egotism and indulgence. Let us reflect upon the necessity of the Cross in christian life.
Necessity of the Cross in our lives
At this time of Lent, I would like to invite you to offer your efforts and sacrifices to the Good Lord with a revived generosity, and in particular with the practice of fasting and abstinence. It seems to me that today, it is more timely to recall to mind, in season and out of season, the necessity of the cross in our lives. We naturally have a tendency to shrink from doing penance. Nevertheless, we must awaken in ourselves the spirit of faith, a spirit which is supernatural. We believe, indeed, that Our Lord Jesus Christ has come to save us; we know that He saves us through His cross, through His sacrifice offered in expiation for our sins. “Crux fidelis”, we will sing on Good Friday, “Cross, sign of faith, among us, (…) through which the Redeemer of the world in immolating Himself was victorious.” This is our faith, this is our certitude, this is everything we hope in.
But we also have learned from Our Lord Jesus Christ of our obligation to carry our cross: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt.16,24) but also: “Whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Lk.14,27)
Necessity of the spirit of the Cross
Our Lord has come to teach us the spirit of the cross, the acceptance of the sufferings of this life, the voluntary offering of sacrifices, the fleeing from the occasions of sins… as ways to expiate our sins, as a means for eternal salvation. After the original sin, human nature being corrupted, the mortification of our senses is a duty. We cannot blindly follow our passions, our impulses, our feelings. We must therefore do penance to express our sorrow for sins committed, for original sin but also for our personal sins, and to increase our spiritual strength, to restore health to our souls.
The spirit of the Cross is opposed to the spirit of the world
It is obvious that this is clearly opposed to the spirit of the world which, on the contrary, seeks ease and comfort, tries to flee any type of sacrifice, satisfies all the demands of the passions… as the way of life in an illusory and short-lived worldly “happiness”.
Mortification was important yesterday and it is important today
It is opportune to recall the mystery of the cross, and consequently the necessity of doing penance, because this is becoming more and more difficult to accept. The world absolutely refuses it and has always refused it. It finds all types of mortification repugnant. The cross is and remains an unacceptable scandal. We can all say the same thing – the world with its habits of comfort, of consumption, of hedonism render the sacrifice and the offering of oneself more and more difficult.
Even in the Catholic Church, particularly since the Second Vatican Council, there is a relaxing, if not a disappearance, of penitential practice. The mortification of the flesh is no longer spoken of. When the traditional Catholic practices of fast and abstinence are not defamed, they are passed over in silence.
My dear faithful, let us endeavor to not fail in the duty of our Christian life to practice penance, especially during the time of Lent.
Value of sacrifice
In educating the youth, we must teach the value of sacrifice. It is necessary for the children to learn to offer the little difficulties of each day, to do some sacrifices, to impose upon themselves some restrictions, to see with the eyes of Faith the deceptions and trials of their life. We often complain of the lack of vocations, of the need of priests and of religious, but the origin of this lack of vocations is found precisely in the refusal of the cross, in the disappearance of the spirit of sacrifice. To consecrate oneself to God, to offer one’s life for the service of God, is by its very nature a sacrifice. The vocation can only be understood through meditation on the mystery of the cross. Without the voluntary acceptance of the cross there is not a profound Christian life and consequently no vocation.
Thus, I wish for you a holy Lent, filled with graces and blessings.
Fr. Arnaud Rostand
District Superior of Canada