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Dominica in Quinquagesima Sermon

Homily on the Patronal Feast of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

In Epiphania Domini

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Sermon on the Feast of the Dedication of the Church of St. Mary of the Snow

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Homily on the Third Sunday of Easter 2023

Dominica Resurrectionis Domini Nostri Iesu Christi (Sunday of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ)

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Dominica in Quinquagesima Sermon

Scuola Invernale «Ecclesia Mater»


11 February 2024

Sg 8, 6-7

Ps 30 [31]

1 Cor 1, 26-31

Lk 9, 23-26


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

As we make our final preparations for the Season of Lent, the Church invites us to reflect upon the Passion of Our Lord. In the Gospel, Our Lord announces to the Apostles His imminent Death and Resurrection:

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written of the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon; they will scourge him and kill him, and on the third day he will rise.[1]

Our Lord makes it clear that the culmination of His Public Ministry will not be the victory of His enemies, the victory of the world in rebellion against its Creator, but, rather, the fulfillment of God’s loving plan for the salvation of man, as it had been taught by the Prophets. It will be the victory of Divine Love over sin and its fruit, eternal death, by the way of His Suffering and Dying, embraced with complete trust in God the Father’s promises. The victory will be won by the way of the Cross.

The way of the Cross is constitutive of Our Lord’s work of salvation. It is constitutive of our life in Christ, as we acclaim in the hymn Vexilla Regis of Saint Venantius Fortunatus: “O Crux, ave, spes unica (“Hail, O Cross, our only hope”).”[2] In an earlier announcement of His Passion and Death, on the occasion of Saint Peter’s profession of faith, immediately after declaring: “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised,”[3] He declared: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”[4] The Season of Lent, into which we are about to enter, is our annual time to meditate upon the Mystery of the Cross and to fortify ourselves, by the ancient and proven practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, to carry faithfully, throughout every day, the Cross with Our Lord.

Today’s Gospel, after recounting Our Lord’s announcement of His Passion and Death, tells us that the Apostles “understood none of these things.”[5] We recall, too, how Our Lord had to rebuke severely Saint Peter who, at the time of his profession of faith at Caesarea Philippi, when Our Lord announced His Passion and Death, responded: “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”[6] Our Lord clearly identified the origin of Saint Peter’s thinking: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.”[7] The response of Saint Peter reflects the constant temptation coming from the world, from Satan, in the face of suffering, the offering of one’s life, which is the daily form of our life in Christ. Saint Paul, in the beautiful hymn to divine love in today’s Epistle, teaches us: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”[8]

How often we hear today that the Church is behind the times, that the Church needs to dialogue with the world, that the Church must find a compromise with the world. No, the Church is not behind the times, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.”[9] What the world needs from the Church is Christ, His saving teaching and sacraments. Yes, the mission of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ is to bring Christ to the world, Who alone is our salvation, not by compromising with the world but by calling the world to conversion, as Lord Himself did from the first moment of His Public Ministry, when He declared: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”[10] When tried before Pontius Pilate to be condemned to death on the Cross, Our Lord made clear the mission of His Redemptive Incarnation, His mission as King of Heaven and of Earth: “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”[11] His Passion and Death were His ultimate witness to the truth, leading to His Resurrection and Ascension, the victory of Divine Truth and Love.

Having ascended to the right hand of the Father, God the Father and He poured forth upon the Church from His glorious-pierced Heart the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit. From His Most Sacred Heart, Christ pours forth into the hearts of the members of Christ’s Mystical Body the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit. The Septenarium Sacrum to inspire and guide them to take up daily the Cross for their eternal salvation, for the salvation of the world.

As we prepare for the Season of Lent, let us direct our attention to the Cross, the instrument of our eternal salvation. In particular, let us be attentive to the deceptions of the world, which would draw us away from the Cross and thus draw us away from Our Lord Who alone is our salvation. May we repeat often throughout each day the prayer: “O Crux, ave, spes unica.” In his commentary for Quinquagesima Sunday, Blessed Ildephonse Schuster counsels us:

The mystery of the cross is so difficult for the mind of man to understand that even the Apostles, who had studied for three years in the school of Christ, had not yet penetrated it. They did not understand it now as they journeyed to Jerusalem, nor yet on the evening of the paschal feast, at which they were consecrated the Pontiffs of the New Testament. One short hour later, omnes, relicto eo, fugerunt, leaving Jesus to go up to Calvary alone. How necessary, then, is it for us to mediate upon the Christ crucified, lest we should fail in a matter of the highest moment, towards which the whole of our spiritual life should be directed – that is, the mystery of expiation through suffering.[12]

We confront serious difficulties in our personal lives, and we are tempted to seek their resolution apart from Christ and His Cross. We confront the situation of the world beset by an abysmal decline of Christian culture, by an attack on the most fundamental truths about the world itself and about human life and its cradle in marriage and the family, and by violence in multiple forms, most especially in warfare. We confront the situation of the Church beset by pervasive confusion, error, and their fruit, division. We are tempted to seek their resolution apart from Christ Who has promised to remain with us always in the Church until the Last Day. We are tempted to abandon Christ in the Church through schism and apostasy. The only way to meet all the challenges we confront in our personal life, in our life in the world, and in our life in Christ in the Church, is to remain faithful to Christ, to remain faithfully with Christ on the way of the Cross, to embrace, in the words of Blessed Ildefonso Schuster, “the mystery of expiation through suffering.”

We have gathered for the Winter School of Scuola «Ecclesia Mater» to address our challenges on the Way of the Cross. Let us pray that our time together will draw us ever closer to Christ in the Church. Let us pray that our time together will inspire us and strengthen us to follow daily the way of the Cross. Let us pray that our time together will be an efficacious preparation for the observance of the Season of Lent, a season of strong grace for our Christian living.

Let us now place our hearts, one with the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mother of God, into the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Let us, with the blind beggar at Jericho, implore Our Lord: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! … Lord, let me receive my sight,” confident in His response to the prayer of our heart: “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”[13]

[1] Lk 18, 31-33.

[2] “II. Hebdomada Sancta, Ad Vesperas,” Liber Hymnarius cum Invitatoriis & aliquibus Responsoriis [Antiphonale Romanum, Tomus Alter] (Sablé-sur-Sarthe (France): Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, 1983), p. 60.

[3] Lk 9, 22.

[4] Lk 9, 23.

[5] Lk 18, 34.

[6] Mt 16, 22.

[7] Mt 16, 23.

[8] 1 Cor 13, 7.

[9] Heb 13, 8.

[10] Mk 1, 15.

[11] Jn 18, 37.

[12] “Quant’è profondo il mistero della Croce, così che perfino gli Apostoli, quelli che già da tre anni erano stati iniziati alla scuola di Gesù, ancora non l’intendono punto. Non solo essi non lo intesero nell’odierna salita a Gerusalemme, ma non vi giunsero neppure la sera del banchetto pasquale, in cui furono consacrati pontefici del Testamento Nuovo. Pochi momenti appresso, omnes, relicto eo, fugerunt e lasciarono Gesù solo salir al Calvario. Quanto, dunque, vuol essere studiato e meditato Gesù Crocifisso, onde non errare circa un punto della massima importanza, verso il quale deve orientarsi tutta la nostra vita soprannaturale: il mistero dell’espiazione nel dolore.” A. I. Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum. Note storiche e liturgiche sul Messale Romano. Vol. III. Il Testamento Nuovo nel Sangue del Redentore (La Sacra Liturgia dalla Settuagesima a Pasqua), 4ª ed. (Torino-Roma: Casa Editrice Marietti, 1933), p. 37. English translation: Ildefonso Schuster, The Sacramentary (Liber Sacramentorum): Liturgical & Historical Notes on the Roman Missal, Volume II (Parts 3 and 4), tr. Arthur Levelis-Marke (Waterloo [ON]: Arouca Press, 2020), p. 38.

[13] Lk 18, 38. 41-42.