The following is a translation (from the original French) of His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s homily on the Feast of Pentecost at Chartres, offered for those who were attending the annual pilgrimage there.
This is an excellent sermon. It’s inspiring. As always, it’s clear that the good Bishop Schneider sees the gathering threat, and is prepared to instruct us on how we must face it. Hint: it all starts at home. The reform and restoration of the Church begins in the family – the domestic church.
UPDATE: Our thanks to Ben Trovato (ccfather.blogspot.co.uk) a pilgrim to Chartres, and translator of meditations for the English speaking Chapters, for providing us with his translation, which replaces the computer translation we had originally published.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
My dear brothers and sisters,
Today we celebrate the solemnity of Pentecost, commemorating the visible descent of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles, when the Holy Ghost filled the hearts of the faithful with his Divine presence, and their souls with his seven-fold gifts, and above all with the gift of Divine love. It is from that day that the fire of Divine love started to burn in their souls.
What are the effects of that Divine fire? It is the transformation of our weak and inconstant human love into a supernatural love. Thanks to that supernatural love, we are able to love God with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Above all, the fire of Divine love in our soul gives us the virtue of fortitude. That virtue of fortitude has, for two thousand years, given the faithful the capacity to prefer death to the betrayal of their baptismal promises, to prefer to die rather than to sin, to die rather than to betray their priestly vows, to die rather than to betray their religious vows.
Today, there are families, young people, priests and bishops who, in order to remain faithful to God’s commandments, are often marginalised, ridiculed and persecuted by the dictatorial power of the new worldwide neo-Marxist ideology of gender, and the cult of the earth and the climate. Moreover, there are also families, young people, priests, seminarians, and even bishops who are marginalised and ridiculed, sometimes even in the ecclesiastical domain, because of their fidelity to the integrity of the Catholic Faith, and to Divine Worship according to the tradition of the apostles and of our ancestors.
Pentecost is also the day when we celebrate the visible birth of the Church, which is the great family of all the adopted sons of God. There is also, of course, another Divine creation called the human family, made up of a father, a mother and their children. Our Saviour Jesus Christ raised the natural family to the dignity of being the domestic Church thanks to the sacrament of Marriage. In our time, the natural family and the Christian family have become the principal object of attack for the destruction of the civilised world by the neo-Marxist gender ideology. Paradoxically, we are living in the age of the family precisely because it is under attack. It is today that the family is called to witness to the Divine beauty of its essence and of its vocation.
In order to remain faithful to that vocation, the Catholic family should, in the first place, practice daily communal prayer. Pope Pius XII said: ‘We beg of you, make it your heart’s concern to retain that most beautiful of traditions of Catholic families: evening prayer together. Gather together, at the end of each day, to implore God’s blessing, and to honour the Immaculate Virgin by a rosary in praise of her, for all those who will go to sleep under the same roof. If the hard and unrelenting demands of modern life do not leave you with the free time to consecrate those few blessed moments to God, nor to add, according to the beloved custom of our fore-fathers, a brief reading of the life of a saint, the saint whom the Church proposes for us each day as a model and protector, make sure that you totally consecrate, however brief it may be, that moment when together you turn towards God, to praise Him and to present to Him your desires, your needs, your troubles and your worrie
s. The centre of your existence should be Christ Crucified, or an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: May Christ reign in your home, and may you reunite around him each day.’ (Discourse: 12 February 1941)
O Catholic Families, fathers and mothers of families, young men and young women: do not be afraid to fight against sin, against the seductive spirit of neo-Paganism. Do not be afraid to fight to defend the commandments of God, to defend the integrity of your Faith and your chastity. Do not be afraid to be heroic. Listen to what Pope Pius XII told us: ‘In modern times, as in the first centuries of Christianity, in countries where religious persecution prevails openly, or in those where it is hidden but no less harsh, the most humble of the faithful may find themselves at any time in the dramatic position of having to choose between their Faith, which they have the duty to guard intact, and their liberty, their means of subsistence, or even their very life. But even in normal times, in the ordinary circumstances of Christian families, people sometimes find that they are faced with the alternative of breaking a solemn duty, or of exposing themselves, their health, their goods, their f
amily and social standing, to sacrifices and to sad and weighty risks. They find themselves facing the necessity of being heroic, and demonstrating that heroism, if they wish to stay faithful to their duties and remain in the grace of God.’ (Discourse: 20 August 1941).
My dear brothers and sisters, the Catholic family still has a vocation that is sometimes forgotten in our times. It is the vocation of being the first seminary (cf 2nd Vatican Council, Optatam Totius §2). What is the most urgent necessity facing the Church and the world in our times? The most urgent necessity of our times is to have authentically Catholic families, which become the first seminaries for priestly and religious vocations. Pope John Paul II said to Catholic couples: “If Jesus, with an act of preferential love for your family, gave one of your sons the gift of a priestly or religious vocation, what would your attitude be? I hope that you would believe the words of Don Bosco, who said: The greatest gift which God can offer a family is a son who becomes a priest. Therefore, be ready to receive that gift with a loving and sincere gratitude.’ (Angelus: 13 January 1980)
Dear Catholic fathers and mothers, dear Catholic grandfathers and grandmothers, say: ‘ Lord, if You wish, call one of my sons, one of my grandsons, to the priesthood.’ Young men and young women, who feel in your souls the vocation to marriage, the vocation to found a domestic Church, say: Lord, if You wish, call one of my future sons to the priesthood.’ And you, boys and young men, each one of you can say: ‘Lord, I am ready to follow You, if You call me to the priesthood.’
What a beautiful vocation it is to be a true Catholic! What a beautiful vocation to fight for the integrity of the Faith, and the commandments of God! What a beautiful vocation it is to be a Catholic family, a domestic Church! What a beautiful vocation it is to be a chaste young man, or a chaste young woman! What a beautiful vocation it is to be a seminarian and a priest with a pure and ardent heart!
Do not be afraid of the Goliath of our times, that is, the new worldwide anti-Christian ideology. The fire of Divine love and the Holy Ghost’s gift of fortitude will make us able to conquer the Goliath of our times with the five stones of David’s sling.
Come, Holy Ghost, and once again, make many domestic Churches flourish, which will give us the five stones of David to conquer Goliath: that is to say, good Catholic fathers and mothers, pure children, pure young people, pure priests, and courageous bishops.
Come, Holy Ghost, come! Amen.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.