Sermon: All Who Want to Live Piously in Christ Jesus Will Suffer Persecution...
Sermon by Diocesan Priest on the Feast of St. Ignatius | The Daily Knight
Brethren in Christ our Lord,
How blessed we are and grateful to God for gathering us this morning at His altar, to worship Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of All Time – the Mass that unites us with the apostles, martyrs and countless legions of saints across two thousand years of Church history. This Holy Sacrifice of the Mass contains all the dogmatic truth of Our Catholic Faith unchanged and uncompromised by any modernist influences; it is the greatest treasure of Our Holy Church and, in the words of Cardinal Ottaviani:
The Holy Mass of All Time is an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Holy Faith.
And together with long generations of the faithful, we know that this Holy Mass, codified by St. Pius V for all time, has the power to bring God’s grace upon the Holy Church. And that grace is so greatly needed in our time. We offer this Holy Sacrifice for the intention of imploring God’s mercy and grace upon our pope Francis, that he may be a true shepherd according to the Sacred Heart of Jesus – the Good Shepherd; guiding the flock of Christ as God would have it and not as the world wants it to be.
Praying for the pope has always been practiced and encouraged by the saints, the martyrs and great teachers of the Faith and it is, in fact, our duty as Catholics. It is Our Lord Himself who built His Church upon the rock of Peter, yet Christ Jesus prayed for Peter as the Gospels reveal; prayed because Satan wants to unleash all his fury against the shepherd so as to scatter the flock. Our Lord prayed for Peter that he might be strengthened in faith and in turn strengthen his brothers.
Prayer for Peter is our duty now, as this is the time of “diabolical disorientation” as prophesied in Fatima, when Satan is ready to wage a final battle against Christ’s Church, sowing confusion and disunity; doctrinal disorientation and doubt; liturgical revolution and Eucharistic abuses. And Satan knows that the most effective blow against the Faith will come from within the Church when he strikes the shepherds weakening their faith and deceiving them into turning their eyes away from Christ and toward the world. Satan also knows that a blow against the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of All Time – the Mass of the Apostles and martyrs – would deal the Church a truly fatal blow, separating the Body of Christ from its roots and its life-giving Tradition.
In this time of terrible danger, we must pray for Peter like Jesus prayed for him – trusting in the power of the Blessed Mother to crush the serpent’s head and bring about the victory of the Church through her Immaculate Heart. And this is Saturday – a day dedicated to the Blessed Mother so our prayers must be especially fervent and confident.
Brethren, it is also a propitious sign that today, the Holy Church celebrates the feast of a great saint, whose life and mission has had an exceptional impact on the life of the Church – St. Ignatius of Loyola. We all know his amazing life story, from a sword-wielding soldier, to an iron-willed servant of God in the dramatic times of the Reformation, when he founded the Society of Jesus to defend the Catholic Faith and the Church against deadly enemies and endeavoring everything “ad maiorem Dei gloriam.” How the Church needs such Ignatius today!
Yet, what was it that made Ignatius such a great saint, a warrior in defense of the Holy Church? Upon his conversion, Ignatius understood the truth that the most important desire and the fundamental motivation of all our actions, must be the love of God and the fulfillment of His Holy Will.
In his teaching, Pope Benedict XVI focused on this aspect of Ignatius’ life saying: "St. Ignatius of Loyola was first and foremost a man of God. In his life, God was first. His greatest glory and his greatest service came first. He was a profoundly prayerful man for whom the daily celebration of the Eucharist was the heart and crowning point of his day. Thus, he left his followers a precious spiritual legacy that must not be lost or forgotten. It is striking that Pope Benedict did not emphasize first Ignatius’ achievements in founding the Society of Jesus, but the fact that in his life – God was first. Because this is what’s crucial in Christian life! Ignatius understood well Jesus’ teaching – in everything you do, seek God’s will first of all! Brethren, it would be pointless to celebrate Ignatius’ feast day without learning from him how to follow Christ in our life; for look at our world! Pope Benedict XVI was warning us that so many Christians today live “etsi Deus non daretur” as if God did not exist. Their faith is only words, for it has absolutely no impact on how they live; faith does not inspire them to conversion of heart and to growth in virtue. But why is it so? It is the fear of the cross!
St. Paul tells us in the lesson about his suffering for the faith and admits: all who want to live piously in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. In the Gospel, Jesus warns His disciples: “I am sending you like sheep among wolves.” Our Lord’s consistent teaching was about the necessity of the cross: "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." This is what the world rejects–for our world is set on the pursuit of pleasure and self-will. Since the revolution of the 1960s the word most rejected by our culture, but even unfortunately in the modernist church – was the word – SACRIFICE.
This was at the center of the liturgical revolution – when the New Mass was stripped of the sacrificial nature and presented as a meal – a memorial of the Supper of the Lord, very much in the Protestant mindset, which St. Ignatius fought against with such zeal and fervor. As in the 16th century so today, the great danger to the Church is “protestantization” especially of the liturgy. The battle for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is really a battle for our Faith! “Les orandi; lex credendi!”
Our Catholics faithful to Tradition are accused of being rebels sowing disunity, and the Holy Sacrifice is being presented as source of divisions – this is the diabolical disorientation, as the Holy Mass of the Ages has united the Catholic world for nearly two millennia and produced myriads of saints and martyrs for the Faith; whereas the liturgical revolution has resulted in the collapse of faith, downfall of vocations and a grave crisis in the Church. At the heart of the battle is the question: what is the Holy Mass? Is it the Sacrifice of Our Lord on Calvary made present in a bloodless manner on the altar, as the dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church proclaims? Or is it just a memorial meal, where the community celebrates itself gathered around a table – as the modernists proclaim! St. Ignatius put his life on the line for the Catholic Faith in Christ who is Really Present on the altar in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, fighting against the Protestants with their heresy of a memorial meal. So we, faithful Catholics must do today: defend the Faith; proclaim the truth of the Real Presence of Christ on the altar in the Most Holy Eucharist.
It is as if the situation of the 16th century is repeated today. As then Our Lord called Ignatius to become his soldier in defending the Faith, so now Our Lord is calling us –Catholics faithful to Tradition, to become His soldiers in defending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of All Time for it is really a fight for the Catholic Truth and Faith.
This is why we are here, praying for pope Francis at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of Ages, which for St. Ignatius was the heart and crowning point of each day. Here we implore blessings of wisdom, courage and fidelity for our shepherd, and ask for the grace of perseverance for each one of us. May this great saint – a soldier of Christ - intercede for us as we call upon him: St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us. Amen.