Sunday, October 21, 2007
Sermon of Fr. Gabriel for the 21st Sunday After Pentecost
Today we had for the Epistle a very powerful Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians where he reminds us that we are in a spiritual battle, reminding us that our wrestling is not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers and rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of darkness on high and therefore he urges us like good soldiers of Jesus Christ to put on our armour to fight this battle. He says: "Therefore take up the armour of God so that you may be able to resist the evil day and stand in all things perfect." So he says: "Have your mourning discarded with truth. Put on the breastplate of justice, have your feet shod with the readiness of the gospel of peace, take up the sheild of faith with which you may be able to quench all the fiery docks of the most wicked one, put on the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit that is the word of God."
My dear friends in Christ, we always have to remember that in this life we are in a spiritual battle. What would happen to an army, even if they were the best equipped army, if they refuse to see that they are in a battle, in a war, and so they lay down their weapons, took off their armour, and just decided to take things easy? They would get wiped out by the enemy no matter how greatly prepared they were, no matter if they had the best technology, the best equipment, the best armour, they would get wiped out because they failed to see that they were in a battle. Well, it's the same way in the spiritual life. We have a battle to fight. We're not in this world, God didn't put us here, for a vacation. He put us here to fight the spiritual battle and those who don't fight, they don't make it. If we fight we get to heaven. If we put down our arms and don't fight, then we have a miserable existence for all eternity. Because our Lord told us that there is only one way to get to heaven. He said: "The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and only the violent bare the way." He didn't say "mostly the violent", but "only the violent bare the way." So only if we recognize we're in a battle against the world, the flesh and the devil, only then can we make it to heaven. We won't win the battle by ignoring the battle. God has given us many weapons to fight with in this battle. We have the sacraments, confession, Holy Communion. The other sacraments: we have prayer, we have the good example of others around us, we have the good example of the saints that came before us and who fought valiently. We have all the equipment, all the spiritual equipment we need in order to win the battle.
We've been blessed with so much more than what those people in the Old Testement had. They didn't have confession or Holy Communion, we have a crucifix we can look at, when we see the Son of God nailed to the cross for our sins and if that doesn't urge us to fight, then I don't know what would. In the Old Testiment, yes they knew there was a Messiah who would come but they very much misunderstood what he would be like and they thought that he would come in might and power and glory. But we know that Christ came in all humility being born in the stable and then finally ended up being crucified on the cross and the Jews couldn't believe that God would do that. We know that God has done that for us and that should urge us to fight corageously in the battle.
One of the weapons we've been given is the rosary. During this month of October we are urged to increase our fervor in saying the rosary. When we look through the history since the time Our Lady gave the rosary to St. Dominic, many great battles have been won, spiritual victories. St. Dominic using the rosary defeated the Albegencian Heresy, which was a terrible heresy ruining souls, not only that but burning and destroying things wherever they went, they denied there was a hell or a purgatory, they looked upon divorce as something praise worthy, they had a practice called the "endura", which was a starving to death, and they thought it was a noble and good thing to do and their leaders called themselves perfect and they would help people starve to death by making sure that they didn't get any food. What was it that overcame that heresy? It was preaching the rosary. When the Muslims threatened in the 1500's to overrun Europe and to persecute Catholics for the Catholic faith, it was through the rosary that the great naval victory at Lepanto was won and they were driven back. When the Turks were threatening to overrun Austria, some time later, the great General John Sovieski, through Mary's intercession was able to drive them back. Then Our Blessed Mother appeared at Lourdes, again to remind us to pray the rosary and then again in 1917 at Fatima, each of the six times she appeared, she reminded the three children to pray the rosary, get people to pray the rosary, pray the rosary every day, not just often but every day. And what did those three little children do? They didn't just sit back as they saw the battle going on. They knew we were in a battle and they knew that to win it, they would have to fight. Our Blessed Mother had said to Francisco that he would get to heaven but on condition that he prayed many rosaries so he would pray sometimes eight or nine rosaries in a day. Our Blessed Mother opened up the earth and showed the three children the vision of hell, they saw the souls that lost the battle. Those that turned against God fell into mortal sin and lost themselves forever. They saw those souls and they saw many souls falling into hell and why? Because they refused to fight, those souls were lost because they refused to fight.
So those three little sheaperd children, as young as they were, they took it so seriously. They prayed rosaries, they did sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, they gave up their lunches, they defied themeselves of water, refreshment, when they were thirsty, they wore rough ropes around the waist for penence. When we think of ourselves we might say: "I wish I could say the rosary with a fervor like they did." But we have to remember that there is a difference between a wish and a willing. A wish to do something, and the will to do something. When we wish to do something, we may think: "well it would be nice, it would be nice if we had the fervor that those children had in praying the rosary." But if we don't really try, then we don't will it, we only wish it. We only wish it because we think its a nice thing to be able to pray the rosary devoutly. But we don't think it worth actually putting some effort in to do that. If we will it, then we think it's worth the effort and we put forth the effort to say our rosary well, even when its hard. And so we say our rosary and we have to fight off distractions and a thousand times in one rosary, we fight off a distraction and try again to bring our mind back to meditating on the mystery. Then we will it, we will to pray the rosary devoutly and our rosary is prayed well, even though we had to fight off a thousand distractions.
I'd like to conclude just by mentioning a quotation of a well known priest, he was known to be very holy, he died in 1931 in Paris, France and one of his sayings I like very much is said that: "The devil is the mortal enemy of the rosary, he hates the rosary, he hates to see us praying the rosary and why? Because he knows that if we pray our rosary, then he has lost." So he says that: "Even if I didn't have the love of God in me, even if I didn't pray the rosary for the love of God, I would still pray the rosary just to annoy the devil." So let's remember that in this spiritual warfare, the rosary is one of our great weapons and it doesn't do any good to have it nicely stored away in our dresser to pray it just now and then like someone who keeps a gun stored away in a cabinet, it doesn't do them any good there when they need it. So let's pray our rosary everyday and as Pope Pius IX pointed out: "Through Our Lady's intercession we would overcome and destroy the monsterous errors of our times provided only that we often say the holy rosary."
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.