March 2019 - District Superior's Letter
Judas and John
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
The world is full of scandals, and woe to it because of them. “Woe to the world because of scandals.” (Mt. 13:7) Not a day goes by that we do not hear of some new shocking monstrosity happening in our so-called civilised world. Nevertheless, “nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: ‘Behold this is new’: for it hath already gone before in the ages that were before us.” (Ecclesiastes 1:10) The first temptation was to make man want to be “like unto God.” This is truly what is behind the gender theory, medically assisted procreation, cloning, and the abolition of the natural moral law and of all the ten Commandments.
Scandal is indeed a theme that occurs frequently on the lips of Our Lord. In fact, what is scandal if not an effort to rob souls of the fruit of His redemptive work, to render His passion useless? That was certainly the cause of His bitter Agony: “What profit is there in my blood?” (Ps. 29:10)
As we witness the enormous efforts to corrupt the youth from its tender years – through TV, the internet, schools, cartoons – it is worth recalling that it was after the words, “Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3), that Our Divine Saviour pronounced these other words, that should be shouted loud and clear to those corrupting our modern youth:
“But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless, woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh!” (Ibid., vv. 6-7).
Then Our Lord spoke of the sacrifices we must be prepared to make when there are occasions of sin around us: we ought to be ready to “cut off our hand,” “pluck out our eye,” and “cut off our foot” (Ibid., vv. 8-9) in order to avoid hell and to go to Heaven. Very strong language, one may say, but it is the Divine Wisdom Incarnate that spoke these words.
Sacred Scripture tells us that when Our Blessed Lord announced the betrayal of one of the Twelve, “One of you will betray Me,” (John 13:21) saint John leaned over from his seat onto the Sacred Heart to console Him of this betrayal. Then to John “leaning on Jesus’ bosom,” (Ibid., v.23) and to him alone, not even to Peter, did Our Lord discreetly identify the traitor.
I ask the question: what have we done and what do we do at the news of these modern scandalous acts and laws? Are we, too, going to throw the first stone, we who may think that we are “holier-than-thou”?
The contrite Augustine knew too well, and with good reasons, the meaning of his words when he said: “There is not a sin that a man cannot commit, that another man has committed, without the help of Him Who made man.” Or, in the Pauline expression: “Wherefore he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed – caveat! – lest he fall.” (1 Cor., 10:12)
Concerning scandals, we ought to react in a true evangelical way, by a triple agere contra: scandals should provoke us to humility, to satisfaction, and to real missionary charity.
To humility: Whatever sad story we hear of someone’s sins or some new iniquitous laws, let us remember that we too could fall into the exact same sins, and even into worst ones, without the grace of God. “It is by the grace of God that I am what I am.” (1Cor., 15:10) We all remember the firm declaration “I will lay down my life for Thee!” uttered by a Peter too confident in his own strength. We know what happened afterwards. “Without Me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
To satisfaction: Like John, we too must console the Sacred Heart: “I have sought for a consoler and have found none.” (Ps., 68:21) Someone must do penance for these sins. Many religious congregations, such as the Capuchins, have that goal. At Fatima, Our Blessed Lady called on little ones to join in this necessary satisfaction for the sins of poor sinners who might go to hell without our penances.
To missionary charity: Scandals should also provoke us to a real missionary charity: “Pray for the conversion of sinners!” Who would have ever thought a Magdalene, a Saul, an Augustine, an Ignatius, an Alphonse Ratisbonne, etc., would have converted and become such saviors of souls – some of them even founders of religious orders – in the hands of God? “For nothing is impossible with God!” (Luke 1:37) Someone prayed and sacrificed for them. And their prayers and sacrifices were answered.
These are beautiful examples that we surely can imitate. At the beginning of Lent, let us resolve to atone, by extra prayers and sacrifices (for this, read the excellent little booklet Christian Mortification, by Cardinal Mercier, available at our Éditions Nova Francia or in our chapels), by fasting and almsgiving. All these good works make reparation for scandals, especially those aimed at the youth. These pour souls, so young and yet already so confused, terribly sullied, many of them damaged for life before they reach the age of 5 – but for whom also Jesus died on the Cross – need our help. Let us also examine ourselves and remove from our midst any near occasion of sin – persons, places or things that can lead us into sin – even if they be as close as an eye, a hand, a foot…
Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo, ne in aeternum irascaris nobis. Let us pray without ceasing in reparation and for the conversion of poor sinners.
A new book from Éditions Nova Francia: From Eve to Mary, by Fr. Jean Dominique, O.P. The long-awaited match to Fathers! Ask your priests; it is a real treasure for young and not so young ladies…
Please pray for the health of your priests! When a priest has to be removed from the ministry because of health reasons, there are always consequences both for their confreres and for the faithful.
Yours truly in this month of St Joseph and in this season of Lent,
Fr. Daniel Couture