My Dear Faithful,
With the recent ceremony of the blessing and imposition of the ashes on Ash Wednesday, we have entered a new season of Lent. For the umpteenth time in our lives as Christians, the Church, by this symbolic ceremony, reminds us of our own death later, but now of the necessity that we have to do penance.
Lent makes us immediately think of the fasting days and abstinence imposed by the Church which, we must admit, are today nothing in severity compared to the previous practice kept not too long ago when life was harder— because of less comfort—than it is nowadays. If the Church imposes some fasting, it is because we have the opportunity to receive a lot of benefits from it. These benefits are mentioned in the Preface of Lent that will be used in all the Masses till Easter. It says that the bodily fast curbs our vices, lifts up our minds, and bestows on us strength and rewards.
These benefits should actually not be the result of Church-imposed fasting only. They should also be the result of some lenten penance that we have decided ourselves to do. A good lenten penance must attack one of our own prominent vices so that during Lent we may replace a bad habit by a good habit. This effort must be done with spirit of faith, which is supernatural and therefore elevating our minds to higher realities, especially God. Finally, by getting new good habits, we are stronger in the fight we have to lead against our faults and then God will eventually give us our reward. But don’t be mistaken, there is no other way of getting this reward. In other words, if we want this reward, we must do the right penance which helps to correct some of our faults. Hence, the yearly insistence of the Church, who is our mother, on penance.
These are the results to achieve, or the goal to attain, but the main motive as to why we do penance is to show our love of God, and also the fact that we must make reparation for our past sins as a consequence of God’s justice. This is because there is a debt attached to any sin we commit even after it is confessed. This reparation corresponds also to God’s plan of Redemption for souls. Indeed, in His Wisdom, God wants to replace evils by the opposite virtues. Hence our necessity to find the right penances that will correct what we do wrong and then help to carry us on the right path leading to Heaven.
In this issue of the St. Mary’s Newsletter, you will find a communiqué of the SSPX’s General House about a recent pronouncement by the Pope, stating that the plurality of religions in the world is God’s will! Although Lent is a time to focus essentially on our sanctification, which should be our sole preoccupation, we should not be indifferent to this grave scandal of the Pope’s words, uttered to please those not of the Faith. On the contrary, the dishonour that this document, signed by the Pope, gives to Our Lord should touch our hearts as children of God and children of the Church. We should not accept that our Blessed Lord be treated like this, but keep the right understanding of the Catholic faith that, by the grace of God, we received on the day of our baptism and want to keep till the end of our lives. These events are disturbing but we should not be unduly disconcerted by them. We need to know these things, we need to know what it means and the consequences, like Archbishop Lefebvre explained them, but we also need to take up our cross and suffer these things with patience. The reading of the other articles is aiming at helping us to do so.
Finally, let us keep considering the Holy Will of God for us today, which is that we make a good Lent. We should especially use this holy season for increasing our prayers and prayer time, and offering up some sacrifices as a response to all the public scandals that we see committed by some members of the Church, and a way of making reparation to the Sacred Heart for the sake of the Church herself.
With good wishes and prayers for a fruitful season of Lent to you all.
Rev. Vianney Vandendaele (Prior)