Sermon from Fr Arnold Trauner of IMBC -1st Sunday in Lent.
Posted on 28th February 2020 at 19:03
My dearly beloved in Our Lord,
Today we hear in the Gospel how Our Lord chose to be tempted by the devil after having fasted 40
days and nights. Thus St Paul is right in saying that Christ has become similar to us, in his Incarnation, in
all things, except sin; and therefore he is capable of compassion with our infirmities since he even
accepted to be tempted (cf. Heb 4,15).
This episode in Our Lord’s life shows how true he is in saying later: “For God so loved the world, as
to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life
everlasting.” (Jn 3,16) Thus God provokes us to penance, in order to provoke us to love Him ever more.
For we cannot get closer to God almighty if we do not progress in the science and school of humility!
True humility of heart – which Our Lord invites us to learn from him: “Take up my yoke upon you, and
learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls” (Mt 11,29) –
is intimately connected to the practice of the virtue of penance.
We see what a good educator Our Blessed Lady is when we take a look at her recent apparitions on
earth approved by the Church’s authority. Be it in La Salette (1846), in Lourdes (1858) or in Fatima
(1917) – Our Lady consistently demands that sinners do penance for their sins in order to avoid the
ultimate chastisement, eternal punishment in Hell. St Bernadette Soubirous, the seer of Lourdes,
conveyed Our Lady’s message to the crowd by repeating three times: “Penance! Penance! Penance!” And
the three seers of Fatima very well understood what the glimpse of hellfire meant which they caught on
July 13 th , 1917, since they developed an insatiable desire to do penance and to offer sacrifices in
reparation for sins.
This is the consistent remedy against the malignant spirit of the “modern times”, where the intellectual
and moral life if based on autonomy and liberty – mankind postulating that it can make its own laws,
independently from the natural or divine law. It is the ultimate expression of pride – and stupidity – for
man to challenge God, Who will always have the last word. We are all called to choose our side in this
tremendous ideological battle. He who refuses to take a side, stands on the side of the liberals and the
enemies of Our Lord: “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me,
scattereth.” (Mt 12,30; Lk 11,23) There is no neutrality and no pacifism possible when it comes to that
The virtue of penance is connected to the virtue of justice. It inclines the sinner to detest his sins
because they offend God. It also means taking the strong resolution to avoid future sins and to make
reparation for sins committed.
When we sin, we are unjust because we take away some or all of the glory which we should be giving
to God through all we do. Sin is not a positive act, but something negative – a mere privation of good.
The penitent sinner detests his sins, not because of some regrettable effect it might have had – having
been caught or punished – but because it is an offence against God’s majesty and goodness. Thus the
motive of this virtue is truly supernatural, and many other supernatural motives can inspire us to do
penance: Sin has caused Our Lord to suffer and to die; it is the ultimate source of all other evils here on
earth, in Purgatory and in Hell; it brings upon our soul a great lot of punishments, temporal or eternal...
Doing penance also demands practical steps to be taken in order to avoid further sins – taking and
keeping a resolution. A precise particular resolution is the most efficient way to progress in the war
against sin which we need to lead in our mind and body. One thing at a time! Patience! - The other
practical step is to make reparation for the sins committed. This reparation can and should be done in
many different ways, foremost in doing our daily duties; doing them better; doing them for a higher
motive of charity… We constantly receive hints and encouragement in this regard if we listen to sermons,
read books about the spiritual life or about the lives of the Saints, pray and pay attention to God’s
Let us therefore assume Lent in a truly Christian spirit: That of serving and loving God – and to this
effect, to rid ourselves of sin; of its consequences; and of its roots, as far as this lies in our hands. Let us
not be content with the merely outward and pharisaical observation of some rules, but let us endeavour to
make ourselves more similar to Our Lord “Who his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree: that
we, being dead to sins, should live to justice: by whose stripes you were healed.” (1Petr 2,24)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
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