Sermon from Fr Trauner - 3rd Sunday after Easter, May 3rd, 2020 – Finding of the Holy Cross
Posted on 1st May 2020 at 08:49
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen
My dearly beloved in Our Lord,
The world is looking forward to be let loose again after the ongoing military exercise where people are “jailed” indiscriminately. The worldlings are looking forward to get back to their amusements.
Holy Church, on the contrary, proposes for our consideration and meditation Our Lord’s exhortations: “Amen, amen, I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful...” (Gospel, 3rd Sunday after Easter) while St Paul exhorts us to be obedient to the civil authorities which act for the common good (this latter condition being very much questionable right now in many places…).
The feast celebrated on this Sunday is the Finding of the Holy Cross. It has been a thorn in the eye of the liturgical reformers since it has been relegated from the Roman calendar in the 1960 missal and breviary, certainly considered to be an unfortunate doubling of the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14th). Historically, though, the two events underlying those two feasts have happened 300 years apart – so there was a good reason to celebrate both feasts indeed.
Might there not be a more profound reason, though, for the suppression of this feast already beforeVatican2? I think there is!
It is not pleasing to our fallen nature that we find the Cross wherever we look, as the “Imitation of Christ” says in a famous chapter (book 2, ch. 12). We rather seek to avoid crosses and trials than to look out and long for them. In as much as we act in this way, we are not of Christ’s mind, as St Paul clearly says in the Epistle: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus… who humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross”. Certainly human nature repels suffering by instinct – but are we to live by our instincts? No! We are meant to overcome our natural inclinations and weaknesses by living according to the spirit rather than according to the desires of the flesh.
The “moderns”, being children of Satan and not of God, are busy aping whatever God has made. The Austrian chancellor hoped that this country could celebrate its “resurrection” - yes, he dared used the term! - at Easter from the “lock-down”. What happened was more like worms creeping out of a coffin than the resurrection of a body… We can be quite sure that he will find a similarly inappropriate expression as Pentecost approaches.
I remember a priest who had left SSPX also, but remained a staunch lefebvrist. I tried to convince him of the fact that the See of Peter is vacant. One of his “arguments” against this was: “But then you also need to keep the ancient discipline of penance.” What can you answer to that…? What kind of “traditionalists” are we if we think we can pick and choose among the teachings and practices of the Church?
Wherever we turn, we find the Cross. We should rather submit to this unchangeable reality than avoid finding the Cross.
We should learn to carry our Cross with patience and humble submission to God’s will and decrees.
You might know the story of the man who complained to Our Lord about his daily cross. Our Lord invited him to follow him into the hall where all crosses are kept in Heaven. There the man should himself choose whatever cross he preferred. He spent a long while going around, lifting up this cross, then that cross… After a long search he found something quite light. Our Lord handed him the cross which he had thus chosen, telling him: “That is exactly the cross I had chosen for you and which you have carried up to now”.
Whenever we decide to have our own will as opposed to doing God’s will, we make our daily cross infinitely heavier. It might end up being unbearable. Think for example of all the poor men and women who decide to separate – to divorce, as the worldlings call it. What an insupportable cross they inflict on each other, on themselves, on their children by going against that sacred pact which alone has not been altered even by the great flood, as the Church puts it in the nuptial blessing!
The prospect of a good life, according to Catholic standards, seems gloomy to the worldlings: What do you “get out of a life of this kind”? But their prospect is one of extreme short-sightedness. Only by denying the obvious – that there is a moment called death which is inescapable for all – are they able to live along in their liberal illusion. If they use their mind, they must admit at least that so many billions of souls who have believed in an after-life might have a point. In that case, how mad is it to brush this possibility aside and not to care about the fate of one’s soul!
For him who believes, the prospect that Our Lord gave his Apostles is not a possibility, but a certainty. And while it is not always pleasant to suffer and to carry one’s cross, Our Lord is not leaving us without consolation; for he adds: “… you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy”. Then he goes on using the beautiful example of the woman giving birth: Life and death, sorrow and joy are always side by side, very close to each other. Therefore we are and we want to remain on the safe and winning side which accepts and respects both sides. There is a time for everything. As St Teresa of Avila used to say with regards to food: When there is turkey, there is turkey; when there is fasting, it’s fasting. Or as St Augustine puts it: Do what you are doing, and you have praised God!
God knows fully well that we cannot be carrying the full weight of the cross all the time – no one can. Therefore He gives us at every moment whatever He knows to be best for us, there and then. How many beautiful episodes have been written in God’s books during the present calamity through Catholics making the best of the ongoing war against common sense and against human nature – at the moment particularly against the social aspect of human nature.
Let us therefore “gaudere cum gaudentibus, flere cum flentibus - Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.” (Rom 12,15) We know fully well that the spirit of the world cannot be reconciled with the spirit of Our Lord who “hath reigned from the wood” (Allel.; Ps 95,10); that Christ crucified will always be “unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness” (1Cor 1,23). Let us not adhere to their standards or judgments, but to God’s. For if we suffer and persevere with Christ, we shall also be glorified with him!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
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