We do not have to choose between faith and charity; We must embrace both!
My dear brothers,
Here we are gathered, once again this year, at the seminary in Ecône, the Motherhouse of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, in order to confer the diaconate and the priesthood, in order to carry out thereby the essential vocation and mission of the Society. It is a matter of transmitting, preserving, and living the Catholic priesthood so as to guarantee the perpetuation of the Faith and of the Catholic Church.
The Priest is an alter Christus, another Christ. He acts in persona Christ, in the person of Christ. It is therefore truly the priesthood of Christ among us. It is the presence of Christ among us. The priest assures the continuance of the benefits of Our Lord’s Incarnation, of His life, teaching, grace and redemption. And that is truly the essential thing. Throughout this crisis—the crisis of the faith, the crisis of the Church—it is obvious that we cannot stand aloof or ignore the situation in which we find ourselves, especially the situation of Holy Church. To tell the truth, for what is essential, nothing changes. For what is essential, nothing has changed.
Liberalism tries to reconcile Catholicism with the thought that sprang from 1789
Archbishop Lefebvre had correctly seen and described the evil of our time, of society, and above all the evil in the Church. This evil is called quite simply liberalism. It is this conciliation, this attempt at conciliation between the Church and the world, between the Catholic faith and liberal principles, between the Catholic religion and the thought that sprang from 1789. It is all there, the whole problem lies there. All the rest is nothing but theoretical, subtle, sophisticated proofs by modernist theology to justify this adaptation made by the Second Vatican Council and by the authorities with the world that sprang from the French Revolution, with the liberal world.
And I would like to quote to you some remarks that we owe to the man who was then Cardinal Ratzinger, in which he simply and clearly affirms precisely that. Out of a concern for fidelity and accuracy, I will read them to you. They are rather brief.
“Vatican II was right in its desire for a revision of the relations between the Church and the world. There are in fact values, which, even though they originated outside the Church, can find their place—provided they are clarified and corrected—in her perspective [on the world].” (Cardinal Ratzinger and Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report [Ignatius Press, 1985], p. 36.)
“The problem in the Sixties was to acquire the best values expressed by two centuries of liberal culture.” (Interview with Vittorio Messori in the monthly magazine Jesus, November 1984, p. 72.)
The present pope, Benedict XVI, at that time Cardinal Ratzinger, likewise shows how the Constitution Gaudium et spes is the “testament of the Council”. He points out its intention and describes its features in these terms:
“If it is desirable to offer a diagnosis of the [document] as a whole, we might say that (in conjunction with the [documents] on religious liberty and world religions) it is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of countersyllabus…. The document serves as a countersyllabus and, as such, represents, on the part of the Church, an attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789.” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology [Ignatius Press, 1987], pp. 381-382.)
These are rather clear texts and statements. It is an authoritative admission of capital importance which spares us the trouble of proving these statements. If they themselves confess that this is the case, there is no longer any need for us to prove it. Vatican II was altogether a conciliation of the Catholic religion, of the Church’s faith with liberalism, with the revolution and the principles of the French Revolution, and even—as the pope says elsewhere—a reconciliation of the idea of faith with Enlightenment thinking. These statements call for several reflections and comments.
First of all, how is it possible that there should be values affecting [both] the natural and the supernatural orders so substantially—to convince oneself of this it is enough to look at the Church before and after the Council!—and how can those value originate outside the Church? Is the Church then not the depositary of Truth? Is not the Catholic Church the true Church? And has Truth then evolved at the mercy of history and of times, cultures, and places? It is not correct to say that these are values that originated outside the Church. Decades ago the author Chesterton used to say that the ideas of the French Revolution were Catholic ideas gone mad. And we could say more precisely: these are Catholic truths unduly transposed to the natural order, ideas that are true in the supernatural order, within limits, but which have been transposed directly to the natural order.
If the Second Vatican Council had really taken liberal values and had corrected, purified and amended them, then they would quite simply have rediscovered the perennial Catholic truth, since they were distorted Christian truths. Liberalism is a Christian, Catholic heresy (with respect to its origin, I mean).
On the other hand, it was nevertheless reckless to attempt this conciliation when the constant Magisterium of the popes, for two and a half centuries, has condemned these supposed “values”: they have been condemned wholesale and retail. Not only the possibility of such a conciliation was condemned, but also the necessity of declaring such a conciliation. This is the Syllabus; this is Pius IX.
Here you have one of the original sins of the Council. Very often they set before our eyes the Magisterium and the Church’s authority. Often that is the only argument that they have. Whereas they began by getting rid of two and a half centuries of the Magisterium and by doing precisely what the popes had condemned in advance. That is more than reckless.
Then they seek conciliation with the world, with a world far from God and opposed to God. Look at the world; it is enough to look around to understand what sort of world it is. Now Scripture is very clear. St. John tells us: “For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). And the Apostle St. James says to Christians, “Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosever therefore will be a friend of this world becometh an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
The spirit of independence leads to the deification of man
Finally, what is the essence, the substance, the kernel of this liberal thinking? The popes and the great authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have already said it all. It is first of all naturalism, it is the negation of the supernatural order, of Revelation, of grace, and consequently in that order, the negation of the Church, of Christ and of God. Consistent naturalism leads ultimately to atheism. And Communism is there to remind us of this: never had such a horror been seen in the history of humanity. Secondly, it is the spirit of independence and rebellion. Independence with respect to everything: the independence of reason in relation to the True, of will in relation to the Good, of man in relation to God and in relation to authority. And thirdly, it is the deification of man. Already Saint Pius X pointed this out: man substitutes himself for God, he makes himself god and orders glory to himself and creation to himself.
Thus they attempted, they tried a conciliation with those ideas, which are thoroughly and radically contrary to the Catholic faith, and quite simply contrary to the natural order, to reality. Of course, since it was an attempt at conciliation they did not reaffirm these principles as such. They did not deny the supernatural order but they reduced it and included it in nature. They did not deny the Church, but they placed the Church at the service of the world, the kingdom of heaven on earth at the service of the world and at the service of this humanist enterprise: the unity of the human race and peace, still in the natural order. Look at Assisi, for example, and Assisi III which is presented in this way.
They did not deny Christ, but they placed Christ at the service of man. Christ is united to every human being, He reveals man to man and, with His grace, He causes man to be a perfect man. That is their teaching. They did not affirm the absolute independence of man in relation to God, but they shifted from the objective order to a subjective order. Objectively speaking, yes, there is a god, there is a true religion, there is a truth. Man would therefore have a moral obligation to adhere to it. But at any rate, whatever happens, man is saved by following his conscience, his truth, and above all by exercising his freedom. Here they find the sacred ontological dignity of man. The exercise of freedom, not in the traditional sense (the freedom to move about in the good) but the simple fact of choosing between good and evil—here man finds his perfection and his salvation.
They did not declare the divinity of man, but they brought about an anthropological reversal through personalism, which placed the common good, and all common good, at the service of man individually, the person. And ultimately they place at the service of the person the divine, universal, supreme common good that is God. For God is the supreme common good. That is why the Council declares that man is the only creature that God loves for its own sake. That God loves for itself! And God finds His glory in the glory of man, not in the glory that man renders to God, but in the glorification of man.
And so we have the same goal as the liberals, the humanists and the revolutionaries. No problem! We will all seek the glorification of man and thereby we will obtain also the glory of God. Their god, too, is fulfilled and perfected by the glory of man. Nothing less!
“To restore all things in Christ” so as to remedy the present evil
Look at how impossible this conciliation is. And they rigorously implemented all the consequences of it. Archbishop Lefebvre used to say to us, They Have Dethroned Him. Yes, they systematically disregarded the primacy and the royalty of Our Lord, His rights, the rights of God. They are for human rights. The denial of the rights of God with the declaration of the rights of man. They dethroned Our Lord in Himself, in His rights by freedom of conscience, by freedom of thought, by the freedom to sin, by freedom of worship, by religious freedom. He has truly been dethroned. But they also dethroned Our Lord in His Church through ecumenism, for if Christ is king, the Church is the queen. And they dethroned Our Lord in His Vicar and in His bishops by collegiality and by the demolition, ultimately, of all authority.
This is the thinking with which the Council attempted a conciliation. And then, of course, now there is the conciliation of the conciliation, which is to say the hermeneutic of continuity. And there are even some who are like us or who were of us and are no longer of us, who are attempting the conciliation of the conciliation of the conciliation. It is wasted effort; the enterprise is doomed to failure in advance: bonum ex integra causa, malum ex quocumque defectu. The good proceeds from a totally good and just cause; evil proceeds from any defect whatsoever in the cause.
But here we are talking about an essential defect, because the essential element of liberal thinking is totally and radically contrary to the Catholic faith. The very thing that they are seeking to conciliate is contrary. One cannot square the circle. It is impossible. It is not even conceivable. That is common sense. One might ask someone from Martigny, France, whether he can travel at the same time to Rome, the Eternal City, and to Paris, the City of Lights. Ask him whether one can take the same road to arrive at these two destinations! In Spain we say that that is equivalent to offering one candle to God and another to the devil. The Apostle St. Paul had already said more or less the same thing in these words: “Bear not the yoke with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). For what association can there be between justice and iniquity? Or what conciliation between light and darkness? What agreement between Christ and the devil? Between the believer and the unbeliever? Between the Temple of God and the temple of idols? Now, St. Paul says, the temple of God is the Church. Then what conciliation can there be? None.
Although Archbishop Lefebvre pointed out the evil to us precisely, he also indicated precisely and clairvoyantly the remedy. He showed us the remedy: it is Our Lord Jesus Christ. More precisely, Christ the Priest and Christ the King. No salvation, no redemption is possible, neither for individuals nor for societies, apart from the priesthood and apart from the kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For He accomplishes His mission both by His priesthood and by His kingship. “For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid: which is Christ Jesus,” St. Paul declares (1 Corinthians 3:11). And St. Peter says, along the same lines, that the stone which was rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. For there is no salvation in any other camp, in any other person than in Our Lord Jesus Christ. And there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved but the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. (Cf. Acts 4:11-12).
When St. Paul in the Epistle to the Ephesians attempts to establish a firm basis for our hope, he reminds us of how God the Father displayed His authority and the power of His might by raising Our Lord from the dead, by seating Him at His right hand and placing under His authority every principality, power, dominion, and throne. As well as everything that can be named in this world and in the world to come. God subjected everything to Him in this world and in the world to come. He appointed Him Head of the Church, which is His body. The Church is the fullness of Him who is all in all. Christ is all in all in the Church. And God subjected everything to Him (cf. Ephesians 1:20-23).
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians the Apostle is even clearer in saying that He subjected everything to Him, that He left nothing that was not subjected to Him. He left nothing outside of His empire, His kingship, and therefore oportet illum regnare, He must reign (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:25). Here is where we find the ideal of the priest, of the priesthood: to found everything upon Our Lord Jesus Christ, to establish everything, to restore everything in Christ, but also to unite everything, to recapitulate everything, to order everything to Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Everything is yours, you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s. That is God’s plan from all eternity: to restore everything, to unite everything in Christ. And apart from His priesthood and His kingship, man’s life is a nightmare from which there is no awakening. We see it clearly in the society in which we live; there is neither truth nor virtue and, alas, neither salvation nor redemption nor justice. All that comes to us through Our Lord, through His priesthood, through His kingship: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
And therefore, dear confreres, dear ordinands, the priest’s life is precisely to subject every reason to Our Lord Jesus Christ who is the truth, and every will to Our Lord Jesus Christ who is the life, and to offer all men the only way of salvation, which is Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why go to Rome?
If that is how things are, someone might say to me: But then why have contacts with those people; why go to Rome? It would seem that on principle we should not have any contact whatsoever with them. Well! It is exactly the opposite: on principle we must have contacts and on principle we must go to Rome. Then obviously prudence will determine the circumstances and determine what we must actually do in a specific case. But on principle we must go there, first of all because we are Catholic, apostolic and Roman. Then, if Rome is the head and the heart of the Catholic Church, we know that necessarily the crisis will find its solution, the crisis will be resolved in Rome and by Rome. Consequently the little good that we will do in Rome is much greater than much good that we will do elsewhere.
On the other hand, caritas Christi urget nos, the charity of Christ presseth us (2 Corinthians 5:14). You have to understand how difficult it is to abandon error when one has lived one’s whole life in error. It is extremely difficult to have the light and the strength to break with a whole series of attachments in the natural order, a whole life devoted to that, a whole teaching with the seal of approval of the authorities and the consequences that ensue. Let us recognize that that is not easy, and let us have pity. For ultimately they very simply need what we have already received as a free gift: light and grace. For what do we have that we have not received? (1 Corinthians 4:7). Well, then! They very simply need to receive what we have had the grace to receive by the mercy and generosity of God. Charity makes it for us a debt.
Those who fiercely and as a matter of principle oppose all contact with the modernists remind me of a passage from the Gospel. Once when Our Lord was not welcomed in a town, James and John—the sons of thunder—offered, if He wanted, to make fire fall from heaven to consume that town. And Our Lord indulgently overlooked that monumental yet naïve pride of the apostles—as if Our Lord needed them to solve His problems!—and replied, “You know not of what spirit you are” (cf. Luke 9:51-56). Yes, they had not yet received the Holy Spirit that pours out charity in hearts, and they did not know of what spirit they were. They had fallen into bitter zeal.
“We have believed in charity”
And what is this spirit? It is the Spirit of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not that complicated, we have to look at how Our Lord confronted His enemies, His adversaries. Both St. John and St. Paul tell us: in this we have truly known the love of God, that the Father has loved us and Christ has given His life for us, when we were sinners, when we were His enemies. That is where God’s charity is manifested above all, and we have believed that charity. Therefore we must do the same. (Cf. 1 John 4:9-16 and Ephesians 2).
How was this love of Our Lord manifested? Through war, anathemas, condemnations, or by making fire fall from heaven? No! This work of love was accomplished through humility, through humiliation, through obedience, patience, suffering, death, and even by pardoning His enemies on the Cross. Throughout His life Our Lord employed every possible and reasonable means of making the Pharisees admit the truth and of offering them salvation and pardon. That example, quite simply, is what we must follow.
I do not see how doctrinal firmness could be contrary to the flexibility, ingenuity, and even the daring of charity. I do not see it. I do not know why doctrinal intransigence should be contrary to the bowels of mercy, to the missionary, apostolic zeal of charity. We do not have to choose between faith and charity; we have to embrace both. Moreover, without charity I am nothing, even if I have a faith that can move mountains. If I have no charity I am nothing. If I give my life for the poor and I have no charity, I am nothing. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 13:3).
Reread the hymn in praise of charity by St. Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians (cf. 1 Corinthians 13), apply that to the life of Our Lord, and you will know unmistakably what the Catholic spirit is. Charity is patient, charity is kind, it is not jealous, charity is not self-seeking, it does not hold grudges, it returns good for evil, charity forgives everything, believes everything, hopes for everything, suffers everything. That is how we can really cooperate in the restoration of the faith, in that restoration of all things in Christ. And if the remedy is in Christ, the priesthood and the kingship of Christ, then that remedy necessarily passes through the heart of our mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Our Lord was and always will be exclusively the fruit of the Virgin Mary, of the heart of Mary. She is the mother of Christ, the Mother of God, the mother of all mankind, the co-redemptrix of the human race, the mediatrix of all graces. She is the one who distributes and gives all graces. She is truly the queen of all creation, the queen of heaven and earth. As St. Bernard says, we have obtained all through the Virgin Mary, we must therefore go with fervor, devotion and constancy to the heart of Mary so as to obtain the graces that we need, and above all for a life that is strong in faith, hope and charity. For we must love with strength.
Let us therefore go truly and often, with a true, interior devotion, to the heart of Mary, to that Throne of grace so as to obtain the help necessary at the opportune time, so as to be in the final accounting true Christians and true priests of Our Lord Jesus Christ. So be it. Amen.
So as to preserve the particular character of this sermon, the spoken style was not modified.
(Transcription and subheadings by DICI, July 7, 2011)
We do not have to choose between faith and charity; We must embrace both!
Non si deve scegliere tra la fede e la carità, bisogna abbracciarle entrambe!
SERMÓN DE MONSEÑOR ALFONSO DE GALARRETA, Ordenaciones en Ecône (Suiza), el 29 de junio de 2011
“On n’a pas à choisir entre la foi et la charité ; on doit embrasser les deux !”
Predigt von Bischof Alfonso de Galarreta anlässlich der Priesterweihen in Ecône (Schweiz) am 29. Juni 2011