Feb. 2020 - Letter to Friends and Benefactors No. 89
My dear faithful, friends and benefactors,
For a long time, I have wanted to address these few words to you. We are currently situated between two very important anniversaries: on the one hand, fifty years ago, the New Mass was promulgated, and with it, a new conception of Christian life was imposed upon the faithful, adapted to so-called modern challenges; and on the other hand, this year we are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X. It goes without saying that these two anniversaries have a very close relationship, since the first event required a proportionate response. It is on this point that I would like to speak to you, in order to draw some valuable conclusions for us today. But, first of all, I would like to look back in time, because this conflict, which manifested itself fifty years ago, had in fact, already begun during the public life of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In fact, when Our Blessed Lord first announced to the Apostles and to the crowd listening to Him in Capharnaum, the great gift of the Mass and the Blessed Eucharist, a year before His Passion, some people separated from Him, while other became attached to Him in a more radical way. Certainly paradoxical, but it was the very idea of the Eucharist that provoked the first “schism” and, at the same time, spurred on the Apostles to adhere definitively to the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is how Saint John reports the words of Our Blessed Lord and the reaction of His listeners: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever. These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum. Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: « This saying is hard, and who can hear it? » (…) After this, many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.” (John 6:57-61, 67).
Let’s try to answer three questions that follow on, from one to the other. Why were the Jews scandalised and what did they refuse from that point forward? What, in turn, does a modern Christian refuse? What must we do so that we too do not fall into this same long-standing error?
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The Gospels tell us that the Jews were scandalised because they could not understand how Our Blessed Lord could give them His flesh to eat. And faced with this difficulty, instead of giving them rationally more accessible explanations, Our Lord insisted even more, reaffirming several times the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood in order to have eternal life. In fact, what the Jews lacked was the readiness and the confidence to allow themselves to be guided by Our Blessed Lord, despite the miracle that they had just witnessed (cf. John 6:5-14). In a word, they lacked the faith with which His Heavenly Father introduces souls into the mystery of salvation: “This is the will of my Father that sent me: that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth in Him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day.” (John 6:40). In doing so, the Jews were already rejecting what they would definitively reject a year later: they would reject the Sacrifice of the Cross, of which Holy Mass is the continuation and the Holy Eucharist is the fruit. In advance, they rejected the economy of the Cross, which becomes incomprehensible without the vision of faith. For them, the Cross would be a scandal, just as Our Blessed Lord’s words, announcing the Holy Eucharist, scandalised them. Here we have two occurrences of the same “scandal”. Indeed, one cannot love the Blessed Eucharist if he does not love the Cross, and one cannot love the Cross if he does not love the Blessed Eucharist.
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And, in turn, what does the modern Christian refuse? He also refuses to embrace the economy of the Cross for himself. He refuses to be incorporated into the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is renewed on the altar. The perspective of doing so scandalises him yet again today. He does not understand how God could ask such a thing of him, for he no longer understands how God the Father could have asked Our Blessed Lord to die on the Cross. In this way, his conception of Christian life changes irremediably. He no longer accepts the concept of completing within himself what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings (cf. Col. 1:24). Thus, gradually, the spirit of the Cross is replaced by the spirit of the world. The profound desire to see the triumph of the Cross gives way to a vague wish to see a better world, a more livable earth with respect for the ecosystem, for a better humanity, but without really knowing to what purpose and by what means. Thus, in embracing this new perspective, characteristic of a modern Christian, which is meaningless and leads to indifference, the whole Church, with its hierarchy and its faithful, loses its raison d’être, enters into a deep crisis and then desperately seeks to give itself a new mission in the world, because it has abandoned its own mission, which is to seek only the triumph of the Cross, through the Cross. Inevitably, in this new conception of Christian life and of the Church, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass no longer has its place, for the Cross itself no longer has a place. Consequently, the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, which men are supposed to eat and drink, in order to have eternal life, will take on a new meaning. The New Mass is not only a new rite of Mass, but it is the final expression of infidelity to the Cross, as Our Blessed Lord himself had preached it to the Jews and as the Apostles preached it to the early Church. Here we have the key to interpret the last fifty years of Church history and also the key to the vast majority of the errors that have threatened Her over the last two thousand years.
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So, what must we do in 2020 to keep the spirit of the Cross and an unconditional love for the Blessed Eucharist? For sooner or later, the same temptation that drove the Jews away from Our Blessed Lord will find us, in one way or another, and Our Lord will then ask us the same question that He put to the Apostles: “Will you also go away?” (John 6:68). Therefore, how can we always be ready to answer, with Saint Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.” (John 6:69-70)?
The answer to this fundamental question lies in a true participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in a lifestyle centred on the Blessed Eucharist. Holy Mass brings a new life to our souls, to the extent that we enter into the mystery of the Cross, making it our own, not only by attending a rite expressing our faith in the Sacrifice, but also by entering into that Sacrifice ourselves, in such a way that it becomes perfectly our sacrifice, while remaining perfectly the Sacrifice of Our Blessed Lord. To achieve this, to offer ourselves with Our Lord, it is first of all necessary to sincerely accept the Cross, with all its consequences. It is a question of detaching ourselves from everything, in order to be truly able to offer everything with and through Our Lord Jesus Christ: our ego, our will, our heart, our aspirations, our ambitions, our affections, … in a word, what we are and what we posses, and even our frustrations.
With these predispositions, when the Son offers Himself to the Father, we are also in the Son, for the Cross unites us to Him and merges our will with His. In this way, we are ready to be offered to the Father with Him. We cannot truly offer ourselves to the Father if we are not united as one with Our Blessed Lord. It is only through this union with the Divine Victim that the offering of ourselves acquires great value. And this can only be realised during and through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
And it is after this total gift of ourselves, renewed at each Holy Mass, that we are able to receive in return that which is essential: the Blessed Eucharist, the fruit of the Holy Sacrifice, in which the Son offers Himself and in which we offer ourselves with Him. The Blessed Eucharist purifies us, increases in us the distaste for the world and sanctifies us – providing that there is no resistance on our part to a radical self-emptying, which is a prerequisite for this transformation. This is what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, and this is why we must rediscover its value every day. After fifty years, we must rediscover more and more the greatness of the grace that we have received and continue to receive through the Mass of All Times.
This may seem paradoxical: on the one hand, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass always remains for us the object of a struggle in which we must not limit our efforts; and on the other hand, the transformation it brings about in our soul produces an ineffable peace, of which only Our Blessed Lord can be the author. In fact, he who receives Our Lord and lives through Him gradually loses all other desires. Above all, he no longer fears losing anything, including his own life. Consequently, there is nothing left in his soul that does not correspond to God’s holy will. Thus the usual uneasiness, coming from the struggle between the “old man” and the “new man”, no longer touches the soul transformed by Holy Mass and the Blessed Eucharist. The soul lives in peace, pacified by Holy Communion: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you” (John 14:27).
Holy Communion also transforms us, and especially by the bond it establishes with Our Blessed Lord: indeed, all holiness and the spiritual life are summed up in this intimate union with Him, and anything that does not target this union is nothing but empty waffle. Ultimately, this is the only thing that matters to Him and this is the reason why He founded His Church. He expects only one thing: that this union be perfect and imperishable in eternity: “Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given me may be with me; that they may see my glory which thou hast given me, because thou hast loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:24).
Through the Blessed Eucharist He already begins this bond and He is preparing us for eternity. The Blessed Eucharist is the pledge of eternal life and the means by which it already begins here below. Whoever receives it with the required dispositions is well aware that the seed of eternal life is hidden in Holy Communion. It is Holy Communion that makes the virtue of hope grow in us. Each Communion increases in us the desire for eternal life and it anchors us each time a little more in Heaven. Eternity is in fact a Communion with Our Blessed Lord that never ends because He will fill our souls totally and perfectly, being forever all in all. Eternity is a long and endless Easter, in which Our Lord will once again manifest His glory, as He did on the day of His Resurrection and He will associate us with His joy and glory. Nevertheless, this association of our souls with His joy and glory, albeit currently concealed, begins through our union with Jesus Christ hidden in the Blessed Eucharist.
We must live according to all this. We have to be imbued with this love for the Holy Mass and for the Blessed Eucharist. We must communicate it to others, especially to the young, because they often find themselves before the terrible choice between Our Blessed Lord and the world. They will be prepared to choose Our Lord, in the extent that they can detect in their elders an unconditional love for the Blessed Eucharist, which cannot be transmitted through a theoretical lesson on doctrine, but by a truly Christian life, completely absorbed in such an ideal. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is much more than a simple rite to which we are attached, as many unbelievers reproach us. Holy Mass is our life because Jesus Christ is our life! We look to Him for everything and nothing from outside of Him. And everything that we expect from Him, we are sure to find it daily in the Blessed Eucharist: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35).
This is how we must constantly rejuvenate our souls in order to keep the spirit of the Cross, which is at the same time the spirit of penance and joy, mortification and life, contempt of the world and love of the Blessed Eucharist. This is how we must prepare our Easter: the one we will celebrate in a few weeks, but also and above all, the one we will celebrate in eternity.
May God bless you!
Menzingen, March 1st, 2020 on the First Sunday of Lent.
Don Davide Pagliarani